Sri Lanka President suspends Parliament as crisis deepens

Oct 28, 2018, 08:15 IST | Agencies

Sacked PM Wickremesinghe seeks emergency session to prove majority following his replacement

Sri Lanka President suspends Parliament as crisis deepens
Sri Lanka's deposed prime minister Wickeremesinghe, centre, with his supporters in Colombo. Pic/AP/PTI

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday withdrew the security of deposed prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who still claims to be the constitutionally-appointed premier despite being replaced by controversial strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The move came hours after Sirisena suspended Parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority. The President withdrew Wickremesinghe's personal security and vehicles in order to accord them to his 72-year-old successor Rajapaksa, who staged a dramatic political comeback on Friday. While Sirisena will address the nation on Sunday, the new Cabinet will be announced on Monday, according to government sources.

The ousted premier said that he still commands the majority in the 225-member assembly. The Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine has only 95 seats and is short of a simple majority in the 225-member house. Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) has 106 seats on its own with just seven short of the majority. The UNP claimed that President Sirisena sought to prorogue the Parliament as 72-year-old Rajapaksa did not command a majority in the House.

The Rajapaksa camp said that they would seize the prime minister's official residence cum office known as the Temple Trees if Wickremesinghe did not quit by Sunday. They have already started running the prime minister's secretariat with Amarasekera's appointment.

Meanwhile, China's Ambassador in Colombo Cheng Xueya became the first Ambassador to greet Rajapaksa with best wishes. Cheng said he was bringing good wishes from Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Wickremesinghe, meanwhile, held a briefing for the Colombo-based Ambassadors to explain the situation, his officials said. In another development, Dharisha Bastiansz, the editor of the state organ Sunday Observer said in a tweet that she had been forced to leave the editorial team by Rajapaksa-supported trade unions.

"Today I had to leave Lake House (publishing house), unable to carry out my editorial duties," she tweeted. Rajapaksa's loyalists took control of the state television stations on Friday night itself after he took oath as the new prime minister.

EU urges Sri Lanka to maintain peace
The European Union joined the US and the UK on Saturday to urge political parties in Sri Lanka to abide by the Constitution and refrain from violence following sacking of Wickremesinghe

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