Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, who is facing a torrid time both within his National Unity government and outside, survived a no-confidence motion on Wednesday, April 4. The motion was moved by the Joint Opposition against him, securing the support of 46 lawmakers in the 225-member parliament.
The move was made by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's Joint Opposition which accused Wickremasinghe of financial misdeeds and failing to effectively tackle the anti-Muslim riots in the country last month.
Wickremasinghe received 122 votes against the motion while 76 went in its favour. Around 26 members were absent from the parliament at the time of the voting.
Though Wickremasinghe survived, at least 13 members who voted in favour of the no-confidence motion belonged to President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is the partner to the prime minister's United National Party in the National Unity government. It shows the growing the fissures in the government which took over in January 2015 ousting Rajapaksa.
'Loss is win', says Rajapaksa
The former president, who is accused of disregarding human rights during his tenure, was content with the results even though Wickremasinghe survived. He said the defeat of the no-confidence motion was actually a victory. "First we had only 54 votes. However, this was increased to 76 during the vote," Sri Lanka's Daily Mirror quoted him as saying. Rajapaksa believed that if all the SLFP members voted in favour of the motion, Wickremasinghe's ouster was inevitable.
Rajapaksa has clawed back into relevance in recent times after his loyalist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna registered a major success in the local elections held in February. This coupled with the growing gap between President Sirisena and PM Wickremasinghe whose wings were recently clipped by the former has made the Opposition hopeful about a return to power in the next elections scheduled in 2020.