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Sri Lanka to Hold Snap Election on 5 January, Says President

(3) NEW UPDATES

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena Dissolves Parliament Amid Power Struggle

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena dissolves parliament on Friday, 9 November, amid power struggle, reported news agency AFP.

EU Demands Sri Lanka’s Political Crisis’ End

The European Union on Friday, 9 November, demanded an end to Sri Lanka’s political crisis stating the island nation’s international reputation and investments were at risk.

No Snap Election, No Referendum to End Political Crisis in Lanka: President’s Aide

A close aid of President Maithripala Sirisena said that the President has decided that there will be no snap elections or a national referendum to end the current political and constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka.

“No, no there won’t be a dissolution of parliament or a referendum,” Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa, the general secretary of President Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, told the party’s central committee meeting Thursday, 8 November.

Ouster PM Wickremesinghe Says, Willing to Work With Sirisena

Speaking to The Hindu, ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he doesn’t have any “problem” working with President Sirisena.

“I’ll have no problem working with him, that’s a question you must ask him. The Constitution doesn’t make provision for personal prejudices.”

Speaker Jayasuriya Urges President Sirisena for Floor Test to Prove Rajapaksa’s Majority

Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said 7 November he wanted a floor test in parliament on 14 November, to resolve the issue of two prime ministers in the country.

Jayasuriya said he had met party representatives to finalise the agenda for November 14 when the current suspension of parliament by President Sirisena would end.

He said the government argued that parliament should not vote for a floor test on the day and should limit its sessions to day’s business.

“After giving a fair hearing to both sides, the speaker expressed his stand. The need for the determination of majority, as requested by 116 members previously in writing to suspend standing orders of parliament, after the conclusion of the day’s business to allow each side to display their majorities in order to have a stable government,” a statement from Mr Jayasuriya’s office said.

Ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe Urges Resolution of Crisis

Ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Monday condemned the situation in Sri Lanka, stressing on the necessity if resolving the crisis by democratic means.

He also tweeted the photo of the Speaker’s statement given earlier in the day, saying that such statement from the speaker is encouraging.

UNP MP Rajitha Senaratne Meets President

United National Party (UNP) MP Dr Rajitha Senaratne on Monday, 5 November, told Sri Lankan media that he delivered the President Maithripala Sirisena to party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe.

According to Daily Mirror, Senaratne said the president explained to him why he appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. “I then explained to him how his actions have affected the country. Later, I met Mr Wickremesinghe and briefed him about the meeting,” he said.

He said that his meeting with the president has “created a positive situation” and though the meeting was successful, what results it will yield will be determined when “it comes to implementing” what the two agreed upon.

‘Difficult Times To Stay Silent’: Parliament Speaker Writes To President

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@RW_UNP)

Speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament, Karu Jayasuriya wrote to the President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday, 5 November. Jayasuria said that as per the request submitted to him by the 116 Members of Parliament, the president’s decision are “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic” and the Members of the Parliament are not in agreement with the “said” decision.

He wrote that the president had conveyed to him during their meeting on 1 November that he would pay attention to the request made by him to summon the Parliament. “Though it did not materialise,” Jayasuriya wrote.

If I am to follow the verbal assurance given by His Excellency the President, it is my duty as Speaker to summon Parliament by 7th November and restore stability in the country. 
Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of Parliament

He also stated in the letter that it is “difficult for him to stay silent in the face of severe violation of democratic principles, forcible taking over of administration of media institutions and other public sector institutions disregarding the moderate employees and information to the effect the various perks and privileges are offered to Members of Parliament.”

US, Japan Freeze Aid Over Crisis: Wickremesinghe

In an interview to Reuters, ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the US and Japan have frozen over a billion dollars of development aid after he was abruptly sacked, that has raised doubts about the future of the island nation.

On 4 November, Wickremesinghe told Reuters that the Sri Lankan economy will be strained further if the project financing is held back, along with the warning from European Union (EU) that it could withdraw reconciliation.

He said the US has held off $500 million aid programme fir highways and improving land administration by the government-aided Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). At the same time, Japan has also put a soft loan of $1.4 billion for a light railway project on hold.

According to Business Line, the US Embassy in Colombo has not commented on the matter.

Thousands March In Support of Mahinda Rajapaksha

Thousands of supporters marched on Monday, 5 November, in Sri Lanka backing the new government. Amid the constitutional crisis in the Indian Ocean island nation, the rally comes after Mahinda Rajapaksha replaced ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe has refused to vacate his official residence claiming he is the lawful prime minister and that the president had no constitutional right to replace him. Thousands of his supporters have been keeping vigil.

Supporters at the rally chanted “Whose power is this? Mahinda’s power!”

As patriotic songs blared over loudspeakers, thousand shuffled through heavy rain toward a makeshift stage. Police and Sri Lankan special forces with semi-automatic rifles stood guard.

(With inputs from AP)

Sri Lankan President Delays Reconvening of Parliament till 14 November

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Sunday announced reconvening of Parliament on 14 November, which he had suspended last month, two days after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe and replacing him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksha.

According to a gazette notification, issued by his Secretary Udaya R Seneviratne on Sunday evening, the assembly would be recalled on 14 November.

Ousted PM Wickremesinghe termed the Sri Lankan president’s move as “unconstitutional and illegal” and refused to leave the official residence, claiming he was still the legally appointed prime minister.

He also demanded a floor test in Parliament, following which Sirisena had suspended Parliament on 28 October till 16 November.  

Foreign governments, rights groups, the United Nations have urged Sirisena to summon Parliament immediately and end the crisis.

Thousands of Sri Lankans also protested in Colombo last week demanding Sirisena immediately convene Parliament.

Sri Lanka Risks EU Trade Concessions Over Political Slide Back

The European Union has said that it will consider stripping Sri Lanka of its duty-free access if it backs off commitments on rights amid worries that have emerged from the president’s replacing of the elected premier by a wartime nationalist, Reuters reported.

The European Union is worried that the return of Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister, could derail the halting progress made towards national reconciliation following a war with ethnic minority Tamil separatists that killed tens of thousands, many during the final stages under his watch as president.

Don’t See Chinese Hand: Ousted PM Wickremasinghe

Ousted Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said to NDTV that the president’s order of lifting the suspension of Parliament was a victory for him and that he has the numbers to prove majority.

“I am the PM until I fail the floor test or elections occur so changes in the policy is not the question. That’s victory for us that the Parliament is convened. There has to be a floor test and I have the numbers,” he said.

He also said that he doesn’t see any Chinese involvement behind his sacking.

Parliament to Meet on 5 November

Sri Lanka’s president has summoned the Parliament to meet next week as pressure grows for him to resolve the turmoil set off when he sacked the Cabinet last week, his chosen prime minister said on Thursday.

President Maithripala Sirisena made the decision a day after meeting with Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who previously warned of possible violence if lawmakers were not summoned immediately.

In remarks broadcast on state television, Rajapaksa told a meeting at his office that Sirisena decided to summon Parliament on 5 November.

Sri Lankan President Lifts Suspension of Parliament

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena lifts suspension of Parliament.

Indian Diplomats in Talks With Rajapaksa’s Camp: Officials

Rajapaksa being selected as Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister is a matter of concern for India, considering that he was favourable to China in his tenure as President. As a result, Indian diplomats, too, have started to conduct talks with members of Rajapaksa’s camp, officials told Reuters.

They added that India would be ready to do business with Sri Lanka under Rajapaksa, as long as his appointment went in line with the country’s constitution.

According to the news agency, several RSS workers also relayed that the party reached out to the Rajapaksa government to “promote ties”.

Mass Protest Rally in Lanka Against Ousted PM’s Sacking

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Colombo on Tuesday, 30 October, at a mass rally organised by ousted Sri Lankan prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s party against what it said was a “coup” by President Maithripala Sirisena, amid efforts by opposing sides to secure their numbers in Parliament to end the country’s political crisis.

Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) demanded that Parliament be convened immediately and democracy restored. Wickremesinghe said that President Maithripala Sirisena had assumed he would get his way.

However, he said the UNP and its partners in the United National Front will not give up and will continue to push for Parliament to convene immediately.

Ranatunga Gets Bail

Former Sri Lankan team cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who was was arrested earlier on Monday, 29 October, for his role in a shooting incident that left one dead and two others injured in Colombo, was later produced before the Colombo magistrate and granted bail by the evening.

(News18)

India Continues to Stay Disengaged in Sri Lanka Crisis

Although newly sworn-in Prime Minister Rajapaksa has reportedly sent “feelers” to several Indian officials, India has maintained its stance of disengagement with the internal crisis in Sri Lanka, The Economic Times reported.

According to what government officials told the newspaper, India did not wish for any of its actions to be seen as acknowledging Rajapaksa as the new prime minister of the country, even more so now that the Speaker refused to endorse the sacking of Wickremasinghe.

Arjuna Ranatunga Arrested

Former Sri Lankan cricket captain and minister Arjuna Ranatunga was arrested in Colombo, on Monday, 29 October, over his role in a shooting that killed one, reported AFP.

According to media reports, a mob tried to take Ranatunga hostage, when his bodyguards opened fire.

Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Warns of Bloodbath Amid Political Crisis

As the political crisis deepens in Sri Lanka, the Parliament speaker Karu Jayasuriya warned on Monday that it could turn into a “bloodbath” as the ousted pritme minister said the country is facing a dangerous power vacuum, AFP reported.

Jayasuriya had asked President Maithripala Sirisena to revoke the suspension of the parliament and allow lawmakers to resolve an alarming power struggle.

“We should settle this through parliament, but if we take it out to the streets, there will be a huge bloodbath,” Jayasuriya told reporters.

‘China Monitoring SL Political Crisis Closely’

China on Monday, 29 October, said it is closely monitoring “the political turmoil” in Sri Lanka but maintained that it is the internal affairs of the country and hoped that the relevant political parties can resolve their differences through dialogue and consultations.

Asked about China’s stand on the current political crisis in Sri Lanka considering that Beijing has made huge investments in the island nation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media here that China is following the crisis closely.

“The changes in Sri Lankan situation belongs to its internal affairs. We believe the Sri Lankan government political parties and people have enough wisdom to deal with the internal situation,” he said.

“China sincerely hopes that the relevant parties in Sri Lanka can properly resolve differences through dialogue and consultations and safeguard the national stability and development,” he said.

President Alleges Assassination Plot by Cabinet Minister

Sri Lanka’s president on Sunday, 28 October, said he sacked his prime minister mainly because of the alleged involvement of a Cabinet minister in a plot to assassinate him.

In a televised address to the nation, President Maithripala Sirisena said a person questioned by investigators had revealed the name of a minister in an alleged plot to assassinate him and a former defense secretary.

He said the only choice for him under the circumstances was to dismiss Ranil Wickremesinghe and invite his former nemesis and ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa to take over as prime minister and form a new government.

“This information (received by investigators) contains a number of details hitherto hidden to the people,” Sirisena said. “The informant has made a statement regarding a Cabinet minister involved in the conspiracy to assassinate me.”

US Urges Sri Lanka President to ‘Immediately Reconvene Parliament’

The US State Department on Sunday, 28 October, called on Sri Lanka’s president to “immediately reconvene parliament” to allow representatives there to quell a violent constitutional crisis sparked by the prime minister’s sudden sacking.

“We urge all sides to refrain from intimidation and violence,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We call on the President, in consultation with the Speaker, to immediately reconvene parliament and allow the democratically elected representatives of the Sri Lankan people to fulfill their responsibility to affirm who will lead their government.”

(Source: PTI)

President Xi Jinping Congratulates Rajapaksa on Appointment

Even as the Ministry of External Affairs, UN and Commonwealth leaders expressed concern over the developments in Sri Lanka following Rajapaksa’s appointment, Chinese President Xi Jinping became the first world leader to congratulate the newly-appointed Prime Minister, thus legitimising Sri Lankan President Sirisena’s action.

Secretary-General of UN, Commonwealth Express Concern Over Crisis

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres and Patricia Scotland, have both expressed concern over the political chaos plaguing Sri Lanka.

In a post shared on the United Nations official handle, the organisation said that Guterres had asked the Government to respect democratic values, uphold the rule of law & ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.

Scotland too, in a statement which was shared on the Commonwealth official website, encouraged “the political leadership and national institutions of the country to uphold the rule of law and comply with Sri Lanka’s constitutional framework in resolving the current challenges.”

Deceased Identified as MRPA Rajapaksa, Shooter Arrested

The one person killed in the shooting, where the Petroleum Minister’s bodyguard open fired at the crowd in Colombo, has been identified as MRPA Rajapaksa, who succumbed to his injuries, after being admitted to the National Hospital in Colombo.

At least three others were injured in the shooting incident, and are undergoing treatment at the Hospital.

The Minister’s bodyguard, who fired the shots, has been arrested.

(ANI)

Newly Appointed PM Rajapaksa Calls for Elections

Sri Lanka’s newly-appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on Sunday, 28 October, called for a snap parliamentary election to allow people to vote for a new programme to overcome the island nation’s economic and political crisis.

This was the first public statement by the former strongman since President Maithripala Sirisena appointed him as the new premier after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday, 26 October, night.

“The primary objective of the political party leaders and parliamentarians who have joined me, is to immediately hold the provincial council elections that had been postponed continuously and also to call a parliamentary election as soon as possible, so as to give the people the opportunity to vote for a programme that will bring the country out of the encompassing economic, political and social crisis.”
Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sirisena’s Move to Sack PM a Constitutional Coup: Lankan Media

Sri Lankan media has described President Maithripala Sirisena’s “dramatic move” to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appoint former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the successor, a “constitutional coup.”

(PTI)

Leader of Opposition Asks Speaker to Summon Assembly

Leader of Opposition R Sampanthan called on the Speaker of Sri Lankan parliament to summon the assembly to enable it to perform “legitimate functions.”

He also added that he recognised the “necessity of upholding the supremacy of the Constitution.”

Wickremesinghe Govt Fell Because UPFA Pulled Out: Rajapaksa

Mahinda Rajapaksa who has been recently appointed as the new prime minister of Sri Lanka, issued a statement, saying that the previous government headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe ended because the UNP-UPFA government came to an end.

“As the result of the UPFA leaving the UNP coalition, I was invited to accept the position of PM with a view of forming a new govt,” said Rajapaksa in a statement.

One Person Dead in SL Shooting

One person is dead after Petroleum Minister Arjun Ranatunga’s bodyguard opened fire in Colombo, amidst political crisis in Sri Lanka, reported AFP.

Rajapaksa’s Prime Ministership Constitutional, Says Sirisena

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, addressing the nation on the political crisis, asserted that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister was made in “accordance with constitution.”

President Sirisena added that Wickremesinghe “grossly violated” the principles of good governance and the former prime minister’s negligence to investigate the “strong plot” to assassinate him, forced him to appoint a new government.

“Once in the government, Wickremesinghe arrogantly and stubbornly avoided collective decisions, and tended to take individual decisions. This behaviour led to many conflicts. Due to his lack of collective decision making through discussion, our country had to face harsh consequences when he used to take decisions with a group of his very close associates.”
Maithripala Sirisena, Sri Lankan President

Two Injured As Minister’s Bodyguards Open Fire

Two people have been injured after Petroleum Minister Arjun Ranatunga’s bodyguard opened fire in Colombo, amidst political crisis in Sri Lanka, reported Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai.

According to an AFP report, a mob loyal to President Sirisena tried to take Ranatunga hostage, following which his bodyguards opened fire.

SL Speaker Recognises Wickremesinghe As PM

Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Sunday, 28 October, recognised Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, three days after he was sacked by the President.

Amidst the political crisis, Sri Lanka’s Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on 28 October, requested President Maithripala Sirisena to ensure that ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s privileges were protected.

In a letter to the President, Jayasuriya said:

“I consider it my foremost duty to protect the rights and privileges of all MPs, especially in the context of the serious political or constitutional crisis which has arisen in the country.”

“I have received a request to protect the rights and privileges of Ranil Wickremesinghe until any other person emerges from within Parliament as having secured the confidence of Parliament,” the Colombo Page quoted him as saying.

Ousted Prime Minister Refuses to Vacate Residence

Sri Lanka’s sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also resisted moves to evict him from his official residence, as his controversial successor sought blessings at a prominent temple ahead of naming a new cabinet, AFP reported.

The new ruling party had given Wickremesinghe till Sunday, 28 October, morning to leave the Temple Trees official residence following his shock dismissal on Friday, 26 October, that has plunged the Indian Ocean island into constitutional turmoil.

Officials said police will now seek a court order to evict Wickremesinghe, whose security and official cars were also withdrawn by President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday, 27 October.

Hope Democratic Values are Maintained in Sri Lanka: MEA

The Minister of External Affairs, on Sunday 28 October, said that India is closely following the developments in Sri Lanka. The MEA said that India hopes that constitutional integrity and democratic values are maintained in the neighbouring country.

Crisis Deepens as Sri Lankan President Suspends Parliament

Sri Lanka’s president suspended Parliament even as the prime minister he fired the previous day, on 26 October, claimed that he has majority support, adding to a growing political crisis in the South Asian island nation.

Chaminda Gamage, a spokesperson for the parliamentary speaker, confirmed that President Maithripala Sirisena had suspended Parliament until 16 November. He made the move while ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was holding a news conference Saturday, 27 October, in which he asserted that he could prove his majority support in the chamber.

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Updated: November 9, 2018 — 7:02 pm
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