In Setback for President Sirisena, Sri Lanka Parliament Votes Out Rajapakse's Govt
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled that a majority of the 225-member assembly supported a no-confidence motion against Rajapakse who was made prime minister on October 26 in place of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Combination photo of Mahinda Rajapakse and Maithripala Sirisena
Colombo: Sri Lanka's parliament passed a motion of no-confidence in the controversially appointed government of Mahinda Rajapakse Wednesday, a day after the Supreme Court overturned a presidential decree dissolving the legislature.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled that a majority of the 225-member assembly supported the motion against Rajapakse who was made prime minister on October 26 in place of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The result does not automatically mean that Wickremesinghe, who had refused to leave the prime minister's residence, has won the constitutional showdown. Though his party is the biggest in parliament, President Maithripala Sirisena, who had backed Rajapakse, retains the power to choose the next prime minister.
Amid chaotic scenes, Rajapakse, 72, and his legislator son Namal walked out of the red-carpeted chamber just before the speaker called for a vote.
MPs loyal to Rajapakse attempted to grab the mace, the symbol of authority of the legislature, to disrupt the vote, but Jayasuriya went ahead.
"The ayes have it," the Speaker announced over his public address system "I rule that this House does not have confidence in the government (of Rajapakse)."
Several Rajapakse ministers came out of parliament accusing the speaker of violating parliamentary norms by holding the crucial vote against their wishes.
On Tuesday, in a major boost to sacked Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Supreme Court in a landmark ruling overturned President Maithripala Sirisena's controversial decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls on January 5.
The apex court's decision deepened the political crisis in the island nation after president Sirisena fired his coalition prime minister Wickremesinghe on October 26 and installed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new premier.
A three-member apex court bench, including country's chief justice Nalin Perera, delivered its verdict after two days of deliberations on as many as 13 petitions against and five for Sirisena's November 9 decision to dissolve Parliament.
The apex court said Sirisena's dissolution of Parliament will be suspended until December 7 and it will consider all the petitions filed on the President's decision next month before giving a final ruling.
The Supreme Court ruling means Parliament can be convened and a floor test can be taken to determine whether the President appointed Prime Minister Rajapaksa has a majority in the 225-member parliament.
Reacting to the Supreme Court's ruling, Wickremesinghe said, "The people have won their first victory. "Let's go forward and re-establish the sovereignty of the people in our beloved country," he tweeted.
Sirisena dissolved Parliament after it became clear that he lacked support from lawmakers to instal Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister following his sacking of Wickremesinghe as premier. All petitions filed against Sirisena's decision will be heard on December 4, 5 and 6, the apex court ruled, in a historic judgement that could upset the 67-year-old president's political ambitions.
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