Colombo, May 5 (EFE).- Sri Lanka parliament Thursday elected a ruling party-backed candidate as deputy speaker, signaling that it may have enough legislative support to sail through impending no-confidence motions against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government.
Ranjith Siyambalapitiya was re-elected with 148 votes in the 225-member house.
The Sri Lanka Poduna Peramuna (SLPP) backed Siyambalapitiya, nominated by a group of 40 lawmakers who had abandoned the ruling coalition over its alleged failure to tackle the crippling economic crisis in the country.
Siyambalapitiya from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) had earlier resigned after his party quit the coalition amid widespread protests against the government over the crisis that has sparked inflation, food and medicine shortage, and extended power curtailments.
“Siyambalapitiya replaces Siyambalapitiya,” opposition legislator MA Sumanthiran tweeted, mocking the SLFP for taking the support of the ruling party after quitting the government.
“The count is now clear. The real opposition in SL parliament is 65 (possibly +5 others who were absent today). The drama of the ‘dissentients’ was exposed today,” Sumanthiran wrote.
The vote came as the opposition handed over two no-confidence motions – one against the government and the other against the president.
Analysts see the results of Thursday’s election as a precursor to the no-trust votes that are yet to be scheduled.
Before the Thursday vote, the SLFP had at least two meetings with President Rajapaksa.
The opposition said the government was yet to take any serious steps to end the economic crisis as people waited in long queues for fuel, cooking gas, and medicines.
The deputy speaker’s vote also comes ahead of a token island-wide strike by trade unions on May 11.
The trade unions have warned the government that they would go for a continuous strike from May 11 if Rajapaksa and the SLPP did not step down.
Rajapaksa has restricted himself to his official residence as youth protesters have been agitating outside his office for 27 days, demanding his resignation. EFE