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Sri Lankan president reconvenes parliament in effort to avert constitutional crisis

Sri Lankan president reconvenes parliament in effort to avert constitutional crisis”

Addressing the "Jana Mahimaya" political rally organized by UPFA and several political groups in support of the present government at the Parliamentary Roundabout today, President Sirisena said the appointment was made in accordance with the Constitution and within the legal framework of the country.

The comments by Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya deepen a political standoff since October 26, when President Maithripala Sirisena fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa in his place.

Critics say the suspension of Parliament was meant to give Rajapaksa time to gather enough support to survive a no-confidence vote when lawmakers reconvene November 14.

Sirisena suspended parliament after he appointed Rajapaksa, raising concern among political parties at home and among Sri Lanka's traditional allies such as India, the United States and European Union.

Wickremesinghe says his dismissal was illegal as he commands a greater majority in parliament than Mahinda Rajapakse, the former strongman president controversially installed in his place.

"I have to agree with the majority of parliament who believe that the president's actions are undemocratic, unconstitutional and against all norms of parliamentary procedure", added Jayasuriya, who is originally from Wickremesinghe's United National Party but holds a neutral position in parliament.

President Maithripala Sirisena had prorogued parliament till 16th after appointing the new prime minister. "I will have to accept the status quo prior to the changes" unless a majority in parliament approves them, he said. However, Sirisena Sunday issued notice to reconvene Parliament on November 14.

Lawmaker Susil Premjayantha told the crowd that electing a new speaker could be the first order of business when Parliament reopens, suggesting the party will bring a no-confidence motion against Jayasuriya. Some members of his party have already alleged they were offered portfolios and huge amounts of money to switch allegiances.

According to latest counts, Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs from the 225-seat assembly while Rajapakse and Sirisena have 101.

Of those, eight have defected to support Rajapaksa.

The Rajapakse family still wields enormous power and influence in Sri Lanka, despite members of the clan and close officials being accused of siphoning off billions of dollars during before his ouster in 2015.

GL Peiris, a leading Rajapaksa backer, however said the no confidence motion can not be taken up in a hurry.

The political crisis in Sri Lanka began after Sirisena's broader front United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has chose to quit the unity government with Wickremesinghe's UNP.



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