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Throw the book on him: Sri Lanka Parliament falls into the farce

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lankan parliament was interrupted for a second day on Friday as legislators supporting newly appointed Prime…

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lankan parliament was interrupted for a second day on Friday as legislators supporting newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa threw books, chilipasta and water bottles on the speaker to try to disturb another trust.

Sri Lankan police members protect parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya (in a black jacket C) as he attempts to go to the chair while MPs supporting newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa protest during the parliamentary meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 1

6, 2018. REUTERS / Stringer

The vote still went, and for the second time, legislators turned to Rajapaksa and his new government, possibly opening the way for Ranil Wickremesinghe to return to the prime minister.

Wickremesinghe was abducted by President Maithripala Sirisena at the end of last month and replaced with Rajapaksa and bore the country into political turmoil.

“We have the majority,” Wickremesinghe told reporters. “We can form our government and we will act accordingly.”

Sirisena is now facing the choice of either renaming the man he kicked out a few weeks ago or allowing the crisis to continue with potentially harmful consequences for the economy.

Rajapaksa supporters poured on Parliament’s floor and surrounded the chairman of the chairman and demanded that two warders from Wickremesinghe’s party be arrested for hanging knives into the house on Thursday.

An MP from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna party sat on President Karu Jayasuriya’s chair surrounded by more than 20 legislators and delaying the procedure. Rajapaksa loyalists then tried to prevent Jayasuriya from sitting on a second chair imposed by the police.

When Jayasuriya started calling out names to know which parliamentarians supported, Rajapaksa’s followers threw the books and chili pasta to him.

Parliament on Wednesday passed the first resistance movement against Rajapaksa and his government, supported by 122 out of 225 voters in the vote, followed by a signed document. Sirisena had not approved that result and demanded the second vote.

Sirisena dissolved parliament last week and ordered elections to break the deadlock. However, the Supreme Court ordered a postponement of that decree on Tuesday until it had heard petitions that challenged the move as unaware.

Sources near the leadership have said that Sirisena’s decision to sack Wickremesinghe came after the Prime Minister’s party rejected the President’s request to back him for the second five-year period of the 2020 Presidency. They had also divorced whether they would recover Chinese or Indian investors in different projects, said the sources.

India and Western countries have requested Sirisena action in accordance with the Constitution while raising concerns about Rajapaksa’s close ties with China. Beijing borrowed Sri Lanka billions of dollars for infrastructure projects when Rajapaksa was president between 2005-2015.

Tourism accounts for almost 5 percent of the economy and is a major foreign currency gain, along with the garment and tea industry and shipments from Sri Lankans working overseas.

Reporting of Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing Krishna N. Das and Nick Macfie

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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