Conflicts & War

Sri Lankan parliament rejects motion against president

(Correction 1: corrects the name of the motion, adds PMs comments)

Colombo, May 17 (EFE).- The Sri Lankan parliament on Tuesday rejected a “motion of displeasure” against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa brought by the opposition due to his handling of the economic crisis affecting the nation.

During the parliament session, a lawmaker of the opposition Tamil National Alliance proposed modifying parliamentary rules to retable the proposal, which was initially launched by the opposition alliance Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) as a no-confidence motion, but later turned into a motion expressing displeasure with the president without any legislative implications.

However, the house refused to discuss the proposal with 119 votes against it and 68 in favor.

The newly-appointed prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, sided with the ruling Sri Lanka Poduna Peramuna party, headed by Rajapaksa, during the vote.

The PM, who had been in the opposition until recently, argued that the motion would have been “self-defeating” and instead the house should have debated the attacks on lawmakers’ houses.

“It would have been better to allow the debate on the attacks to take place today, and in a few days time these Government MPs would be compelled to vote in favor of the symbolic Motion of Displeasure,” Wickremesinghe said in a tweet.

He was appointed as the prime minister last week by the president to succeed his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on May 9 after a wave of political violence that spread across the island and resulted in nine deaths.

The parliament was on Tuesday convened for the first time since May 5, when the president had adjourned it due to protesters gathering outside the building in large numbers.

The vote shows that the SLPP and its allies continue to enjoy a majority in the house, having already won another vote on May 5 with a 148-65 support in the house, which has a total strength of 225.

The government had come under a cloud in April when 42 lawmakers from the ruling coalition announced that they were withdrawing their support for Rajapaksa.

In line with the general discontent against Rajapaksa, the SJB brought two no-trust motions against the president and his government on May 4, blaming him for the severe economic crisis that has engulfed Sri Lanka, with widespread food and fuel shortages.

Protests demanding the government’s ouster have continued since March, with Rajapaksa trying to assuage the protesters by appointing Wickremesinghe as prime minister and promising to amend the constitution to reduce his own powers and transferring them to the parliament. EFE


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