Sri Lanka parliament to debate political crisis

Sri Lankan Parliament will debate on the ongoing political crisis in the country following the local council elections in which former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa 's new party registered a landslide victory, officials said.Former president Rajapaksa's new party Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) defeated Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP), winning 225 councils or two-thirds of the 340 councils which went to the polls on Saturday.The UNP won only 41 councils while the SLFP was a distant third with just 11 in the first electoral test of the unity government headed by Sirisena.Rajapaksa's SLPP swept the polls in a massive wave of support to the former strongman. Sirisena's SLFP suffered its worst drubbing with just 13 per cent of the vote.Dinesh Gunawardena, the leader of the Joint Opposition in parliament moved in the House this morning that parliament must as an urgent matter discuss the ongoing crisis.Speaker Karu Jayasuriya agreed to grant the three-hour debate which would mean an extension of the normal sitting hours.The trio - President Maithripala Sirisena , Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Jayasuriya - met last night in long deliberations.Sirisena was insistent on Wickremesinghe leaving the premiership while the prime minister stood his position, political sources said.Jayasuriya who is also the deputy leader of the United National Party (UNP) told the President that it was an internal issue for the UNP to make Wickremesinghe step down as the party leader.Sirisena had planned to issue a gazette notification last night suspending the current sessions of parliament, presidential sources said.The move the UNP supporters claimed was to prevent Wickremesinghe from proving his parliamentary majority to continue as prime minister.Sirisena had tried to garner the 113 required to appoint his own party man as prime minister but the move has fizzled out to due to lack of numbers.Since the election results, Sirisena has worked for the ouster of Wickremesinghe. His members in the unity government with Wickremesinghe claimed that they could no longer continue with Wickremesinghe as the prime minister.The country's religious leaders and economists have urged the political leaders to end the impasse early and bring in stability after rupee hit a record low to the dollar taking a beating from the on going crisis.

February 19, 2018 10:52 UTC


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