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Sri Lanka House Speaker Says Rajapaksa Must Prove Majority

08 November 2018

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena fired the sitting prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on October 26 and appointed Rajapaksa in his place, sparking a political crisis.

The comments by Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya deepen a political standoff since October 26, when President Maithripala Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.

The United Nations and many Western countries have urged Sirisena to summon the House immediately.

The speaker of Sri Lanka's suspended parliament said on Monday he would not accept former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister unless Rajapaksa proves he has the backing of a majority of lawmakers.

"I have to agree with the majority of parliament who believe that the president's actions are undemocratic, unconstitutional and against all norms of parliamentary procedure", added Jayasuriya, who is originally from Wickremesinghe's United National Party but holds a neutral position in parliament. "As such I have to recognize the status quo which prevailed before until the new party would be able to prove their majority", Jayasuriya said, making it clear that he wants a parliamentary floor test.

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Sirisena announced on Sunday that parliament would reconvene on November 14, a week later than he had promised, prolonging the power struggle that has crippled the country.

While the UNP and opposition political parties also had requested the President to reconvene parliament, a discussion was also held between the Speaker and the President recently.

Some members of his party have alleged they were offered portfolios and huge amounts of money to switch allegiances.

According to latest counts, Wickremesinghe now has 102 MPs from the 225-seat assembly after another defection while Rajapakse and Sirisena also have 102.

Sri Lankan President defends his decision to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Mon, Nov 5, 2018, 10:56 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

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The alliance had "decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa", the statement said.

Supporters of Mr. Rajapaksa at the rally chanted "Whose power is this?"

The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support, ending a almost decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.

While Wickremesinghe is staying on in the premier's residence called Temple Trees, Rajapaksa has taken over the offices of the prime minister following his swearing in.

The President said he was forced to take the decision to free the general public from the Wickremesinghe government's economic vision that has burdened the people.

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Sri Lanka House Speaker Says Rajapaksa Must Prove Majority