Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
World News | By Sandy Lane

United Nations chief asks Sri Lankan leader to revert to parliamentary procedures

United Nations chief asks Sri Lankan leader to revert to parliamentary procedures

Parliamentarians, including ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, have urged for an urgent parliamentary session, to identify which party held the majority in the House.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, voicing concern over the ongoing political crisis in Sri Lanka, urged President Maithripala Sirisena to revert to parliamentary procedures and allow Parliament to vote "as soon as possible".

The political turmoil began after Sirisena sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place in a dramatic turn of events last week.

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However, seven members from Wickremesinghe's United National Front have defected to Rajapaksa's government.

Tensions have been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister.

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After sacking Wickremesinghe, Sirisena announced that he made the replacement in part because Wickremesinghe and a Cabinet colleague were behind an alleged assassination plot against him. He was also critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's long civil war, which ended in 2009. "We are expecting a few more defections on Saturday", a source close to President Sirisena said.

Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) risks losing legislators to Rajapakse's camp as the days drag by. He argued that he can not be legally removed from office until he loses the support from Parliament, and asked for a vote as evidence to prove he had majority support. Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa had said that no decision has been taken on reconvening the parliament on November 05 and that they are planning to stage a public rally on that day.

The announcement was made by Parliament spokesman Karu Jayasuriya when he addressed a special meeting of party leaders.

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Sirisena was health minister in Rajapaksa's Cabinet and the second-in-command of his party before defecting to run as the opposition candidate in a presidential election called two years ahead of schedule.

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