Sri Lanka heads for showdown as Rajapakse rallies support


The TNA has said it will support a no-trust motion Rajapaksa, amid mounting pressure on President Sirisena to let the suspended parliament hold a vote to end the ongoing political crisis.

His comments came after Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya earlier in the day slammed Maithripala Sirisena's "unconstitutional and undemocratic" actions to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and suspend Parliament, saying he will not recognise Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new premier unless he wins a floor test.

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.

The United States and the European Union have urged the president to immediately summon parliament and let deputies decide who is to lead the country.

"In the name of justice and fair play I have to declare my position to the world that when a majority has pointed out that rights of the MPs have been usurped by preventing the lawful convening of parliament", Jayasuriya said.

President Maithripala Sirisena had prorogued parliament till 16th after appointing the new prime minister.

Rajapaksa is known as a Sri Lankan nationalist, while being close to China.

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The reconvention of parliament by the president seems to suggest that Rajapaksa has the votes needed to be confirmed in the coming days.

It is stated in the special gazette notification that parliament is called on the 14th according to the powers vested on the president by sub-ordinance 3.1 of the 70th ordinance of the constitution. Rajapaksa needs 113 to prove his majority in the 225-member House.

The Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of parties representing the Tamils, vowed on Sunday that its 15 members would back the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's legislator son Namal on Sunday indicated that the long held demand of the Tamil minority community to release all Tamil prisoners may be fulfilled soon, a move aimed at persuading the Tamil legislators to support Rajapaksa.

After sacking Wickremesinghe, Sirisena announced that he made the replacement in part because Wickremesinghe and a Cabinet colleague were behind an alleged assassination plot against him.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister.

At least eight legislators from the UNP and a member of an opposition party have now crossed over to the Sirisena and Rajapaksa-led United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had the backing of 96 legislators prior to the crisis.