Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa

Larry Hoffman
November 5, 2018

President Maithripala Sirisena has conveyed to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister was in keeping with the Constitution, the supreme law of the country, Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told the Sunday Observer.

Sirisena's summons comes after Wickremesinghe's UNP said on Friday that 118 lawmakers had met the speaker to demand parliament be allowed to convene.

Guterres "offered assistance in facilitating a dialogue with all the parties to resolve the situation", it said.

Since then, Wickremesinghe has not left the prime minister's official residence, insisting he is still the legitimate prime minister and controls a majority in parliament.

His United National Party submitted a motion to that effect to parliament but Sirisena suspended its session until November 16, citing a need for Rajapaksa to make arrangements for the new government prevented the vote.

The political turmoil began after Sirisena sacked PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.

Sri Lanka's deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the United States and Japan had frozen more than a billion dollars of development aid after his abrupt dismissal raised doubts about the future of democracy in the island.

Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People's Front), the party he formed in 2016, swept local elections in 2018 in an embarrassing defeat for the United National Front, a coalition formed with Sirisena in 2015 to defeat Rajapaksa. Sirisena was also critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's long civil war, which ended in 2009. "We are expecting a few more defections on Saturday", a source close to President Sirisena said.

According to latest counts, Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs while Rajapakse and Sirisena together have 100. The alliance had "decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa", the statement said.

"We strongly oppose and condemn Tamil National Alliance Member of Parliament being a part of this conspiracy", TNA said.

Sirisena also suspended Parliament until November 16. After having declared as Prime Minister a Member who does not command the confidence of Parliament, this had been done in order to create delay and prevent such Member from having to prove a majority in Parliament.

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