Political tensions are on a rise in Sri Lanka as President Maithripala Sirisena suspended parliament on Saturday, till November 16. The decision was made after recently discharged Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority in the parliament. Sirisena's move has been criticised for allowing the newly elected Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to buy more time to seek majority in parliament. The parliament was due to meet on November 5 to unveil the 2019 annual budget. Both Rajapaksa and Sirisena are short of a simple majority in the 225-member house, having 95 seats in the parliament. Meanwhile, Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) have 106 seats on its own, which is just seven short of claiming the majority.
The assertion of Wickremesinghe is that the swearing in of Rajapaksa in his place is "illegal and unconstitutional". Addressing the media along with his constituent party leaders, he stated, “This is a created crisis, there is no need for this crisis. The people must not suffer because of this at a difficult time for them." He further stated that, “I can prove majority on the floor of the House.". Along with the removal of Wickremesinghe, Sirisena also ordered the removal of Prime Minister's Secretary Saman Ekanayake with the reason being that it was according to the powers vested with the president as the appointing authority.
Speaker Jayasuriya would now have to choose between Rajapaksa or Wickremesinghe as the prime minister when parliament resumes. The political developments unfolded after Sirisena's broader political front United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it had decided to quit the current government along with Wickremesinghe's UNP. The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support. This ended a nearly decade-long rule by Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa's return to power puts an end to a coalition government that was formed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe on the promise to combat corruption and financial irregularities.
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