Sri Lankan Parliament to take up motion to express confidence in ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe

Sri Lankan Parliament will take up a motion to express confidence in ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe next week, officials said on December 6, 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 Mr. Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. The President on December 5 said that the current political crisis will not drag on beyond a week even as a war of words between him and Mr. Wickremesinghe intensified.

On December 3, a lower court temporarily barred Mr. 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 Mr. Rajapaksa.

Mr. Sirisena, after sacking Mr. 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. Mr. 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, Mr. Wickremesinghe on December 4 said the United National Front alliance led by his United National Partywas 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”.

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

As many as 122 parliamentarians of Mr. Wickeremesinghe’s UNP, Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP and Tamil National Alliance filed a petition in the Court of Appeal in November challenging Mr. Rajapaksa’s authority as the Prime Minister. Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. 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, Mr. Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while the Rajapaksa-Sirisena combine had 95 seats. Mr. Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.

The President has said that due to sharp personal differences with Mr. Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as Prime Minister. However, Mr. Wickremesinghe’s UNP claims that Mr. Sirisena will be left with no choice as he would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.