Sri Lanka parliament sacks Rajapakse, leaving political power vacuum

Source:AFP Published: 2018/11/14 22:03:41

Sri Lanka's parliament on Wednesday voted out the bitterly disputed government of former strongman Mahinda Rajapakse, removing one controversial figure but leaving the country in a power vacuum.

The island nation has been in crisis since the president sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with Rajapakse, who served as president until being voted out three years ago.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court overruled the president's dissolution of parliament and halted preparations for a snap election, in a major boost for the ousted prime minister.

In stormy scenes Wednesday, legislators gave their verdict on the two rivals - with a majority in the 225-member assembly supporting a no-confidence motion against Rajapakse.

Parliament also passed motions declaring illegal the November 9 proclamations made by President Maithripala Sirisena to enshrine the power shift.

The result however does not automatically mean that Wickremesinghe, who has refused to leave the prime minister's residence, has won the constitutional showdown.

Day-to-day administration remains paralyzed as the crisis drags on and there are growing fears for the economy and Sri Lanka's ability to repay its huge foreign debts.

Though Wickremesinghe's United National Party is the biggest in parliament, Sirisena retains the power to choose the next prime minister.

The UNP leader, who left his bunker at the Temple Trees official residence for the first time in nearly three weeks to go to parliament, still hailed the vote.

"This is a victory for the people," Wickremesinghe told reporters, condemning the president's actions as "illegal."

He said officials should no longer take orders from the Rajapakse-led "purported government."

The UNP said that Sirisena must now call on Wickremesinghe to form a new government. UNP deputy leader Sajith Premadasa said: "For me, he is still the prime minister. Today, democracy prevailed."




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