Ranil Wickremesinghe urges restoration of Sri Lankan government
Colombo, Nov 16: Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called for restoration of his government after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in a motion of no trust for the second time in Parliament on Friday amid chaos.
The brawl occurred a day after Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced there is no prime minister or government following a no-confidence motion against disputed prime minister Rajapaksa. Friday's proceedings were to repeat the floor test which was disrupted on Thursday.
At least seven policemen and three legislators were injured as unprecedented violence broke out as part of the political and constitutional stand off. Wickremesinghe, speaking after violence marred the parliamentary vote, said: "I will pass the parliamentary test, we are not running away, we will not prevent voting either". For the third day, the United People's Freedom Allaiance (UPFA) members of President Maithripala Sirisena and Rajapaksa disrupted the house proceedings.
Jayasuriya summoned 30 policemen to the chamber to provide him security to conduct proceedings. For over 40 minutes, Jayasuriya was prevented from entering the chamber. The UPFA MPs had formed a ring around Jayasuriya's seat with one of them occupying it. Parliamentary officials said this was the first time ever that police were summoned to the chamber to protect the Speaker. As Jayasuriya was entering the chamber in police protection, officers came under attack by rioting legislators. Copies of Sri Lankan Constitution and Erskin May's parliamentry practice were thrown at the police.
At least one parliamentarian was accused of throwing chili powder mixed with water to senior parliamentarians Gamini Jayawickrema Prerea and Vijitha Herath. They were seen with sprayed chili powder water on their shirts. Policemen were seen looking for cover against the chili water attack.
Speaker Jayasuriya, amid disturbances, took the vote on the no trust motion against Rajapaksa. He decalared "ayes" carried the vote and Rajapaksa had lost confidence in the house. Thus Rajapaksa was defeated twice in the house after Sirisena appointed him controversially on October 26.
With political crisis triggered by Rajapaksa's appointment was deepening every passing day, Jayasuriya has asserted supremacy of the house against Sirisena's executive order of dismissing Wickremasinghe as the lawful premier. The Speaker took a strong stance after the Supreme Court on Tuesday annulled Sirisena's sacking of Parliament to call for fresh elections. As international criticism of Sirisena's action came to the fore, UPFA ministers accused the Speaker of working hand in glove with Colombo-based Western ambassadors.