No-confidence motions filed against Sri Lanka’s president, government

New Delhi, May 3 (EFE).- Sri Lanka’s main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), on Tuesday presented two motions of censure against the president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, and his government, which has been heavily criticized for the management of the serious economic crisis gripping the island nation.

“SJB hands over two No Confidence Motions; against the President and the Government, to the Speaker of the Parliament,” the party led by Sajith Premadasa said on Twitter.

SJB hopes to impeach the president and abolish the constitutional amendments championed by Rajapaksa when he took office after the 2020 elections, which grant enormous powers to the president.

The no-confidence motions were announced by the opposition party in mid-April, although it is unclear whether the SJB has the necessary support in the House to proceed.

The island nation is facing an unprecedented economic crisis caused in part by its massive foreign debt, an economic recession during the pandemic, and a drastic drop in tourism activity.

Without enough foreign exchange to buy food, fuel and staple goods, Sri Lanka entered an inflationary and shortage spiral months ago, leading to last week’s announcement of a temporary suspension of its foreign debt payments.

The economic crisis has also precipitated a wave of political instability and mass protests.

Rajapaksa’s cabinet of ministers resigned en masse in early April because of the demonstrations, forcing the president to appoint a new cabinet which excluded all the members of his clan except for his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has remained as Sri Lanka’s prime minister.

The tone of the protests worsened after the Sri Lankan authorities increased power cuts in the country to 13 hours per day on March 30, and since then several encampments have been set up in front of the Presidential Secretariat and the Prime Minister’s residence in the capital.

On International Labor Day, which fell on Sunday, tens of thousands of people protested against Rajapaksa and his government.

The former president and leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Maithripala Sirisena, who was affiliated to the government until the protests began, has called for early elections, while the opposition SJB has promised to “overthrow” Rajapaksa.

Despite the massive protests, both the president and the prime minister remain in their posts, while Rajapaksa has reiterated the requests to form a government of national unity. EFE


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