Lankan Parliament to take up motion to express confidence in deposed PM Ranil Wickremesinghe

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Parliament will take up a motion to express confidence in ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe next week, officials said on Thursday, as the political crisis following his controversial sacking by the president intensified.

The motion has been listed for which no dates have been fixed, parliamentary officials said.

Parliament meets next on December 12 and the day’s business is to be determined on the same day. If there is no firm indication, it will be taken up on that day, they said.

Sri Lanka is going through a major political crisis since October 26 when President Maithripala Sirisena, in a controversial move, removed Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.

The president on Wednesday said that the current political crisis will not drag on beyond a week even as a war of words between him and Wickremesinghe intensified.

On Monday, a lower court temporarily barred Rajapaksa from performing his duties after which he filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.

The interim ruling was a major blow to both President Sirisena and Rajapaksa.

Sirisena, after sacking Wickremesinghe on October 26, dissolved Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5. However, the Supreme Court overturned his decision and halted the preparations for snap polls.

Sirisena said that he has always taken decisions in the best interest of the country and the people.

In his strongest yet statement against the president, United National Party (UNP) leader Wickremesinghe on Tuesday said the United National Front (UNF) was prepared to face elections and they are “not afraid of elections.”

The ousted premier also urged the president not to “be like Hitler and some of the other dictators who used the referendum.”

Sirisena has said in the past that Wickremesinghe is a stubborn, headstrong person who was following far right wing neo-liberal policies.

As many as 122 parliamentarians of Wickeremesinghe’s UNP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and Tamil National Alliance last month filed a petition in the court of appeal challenging Rajapaksa’s authority as the prime minister.

Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa both claim to be the prime ministers with the former claiming that his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament.

Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.

Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.

The president has said that due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as the prime minister.

However, Wickremesinghe’s UNP claims that Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.

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