Lankan opposition agrees to move fresh No Confidence Motion as per established norms
Posted on November 15th, 2018

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, November 15 (newsin.asia): Opposition parties in the Sri Lankan parliament are expected to submit a fresh Motion of No Confidence (MNC) against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa soon, following an agreement they had reached with President Maithripala Sirisena here on Thursday.

President Sirisena told opposition leaders who met him, that he is not opposed to moving an MNC against the government headed by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. According to Mano Ganeshf Tamil Progressive Alliance, the President also promised not to prorogue parliament again.

Lankan opposition agrees to move fresh No Confidence Motion as per established norms

But he made it clear that he would insist that the MNC is worded in the proper way and the set procedure for presenting, debating and voting on it, is followed.

The President had called a meeting of the opposition parties which supported the MNC on Wednesday, such as the United National  Party (UNP), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC), the Tamil Progressive Alliance (TPA).

He pointed out that unwarranted and unconstitutional remarks had been made in the motion statement motion. These have to be removed. Statements disputing the constitutional status of the Prime Minister and his cabinet ministers sworn-in by him have to be deleted.

The set procedure for accepting and fixing a date for debate and voting, which were flouted ,have to be followed. Electronic voting or voting by the showing of hands and not voice voting should be adopted, the President said.

Timetable

According to the Democratic Left Front (DLF) leader and MP, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who is part of Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s United Peoples’ Freedom Front (UPFA), said that if proper procedure is followed, it will take about two weeks to complete the entire process.

Government is ready to accept the result of the vote on the motion. But it wants to ensure that it is done as per the set procedure,” Nanayakkara said.

As on date, the Rajapaksa government does not have the numbers (at least 113 out of 225 ) to defeat an MNC. The opposition is claiming the support of 122 MPs. 122 MPs had signed on a statement saying that they had supported the motion which had been adopted by voice vote earlier.

The President pointed out a flaw in that statement too. It was not certified by parliament. The date had also been changed giving rise to suspicion about the authenticity of the list.

Given the fact that Rajapaksa is far from having the required number ( with some crossing over to the opposition even on Wednesday), defeat is likely.

Wickremesinghe’s Chances

Asked whether UNP leader and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will be appointed again, Nanayakkara said that the new appointee need not be Wickremesinghe.

It is the prerogative of the President to call upon any MP, who in his opinion enjoys the confidence of the House, to be the Prime Minister. It need not be Wickremesinghe. It may be somebody else,” Nanayakkara said.

Persistent Conflict

President Sirisena and former Prime Minister Wickremesinghe have been having a running battle since they established a coalition or National Unity government in January 2015.

They differed on economic, social, domestic and foreign policies. While Wickremesinghe hardly consulted the Prime Minister when taking decisions, the President overturned decisions he did not favor, using his over-riding power as the directly elected Executive President. As a result, the administration of the country came to a standstill.

The President had, for some time, been toying with the idea of sacking Wickremesinghe and appointing  Speaker Karu Jayasuriya  or UNP Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa as Prime Minister. But both Jaysuriya and Premadasa turned down the invitation.

Meanwhile, leaders and cadres of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the UPFA were pressing the President to make Rajapaksa the Prime Minister, given his grassroots level popularity and the  brilliant performance of his Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) in the February 2018 local bodies elections.

And after all, Rajapaksa was a chip of the old SLFP block.

On October 26, President Sirisena summarily sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa as Prime Minister triggering a domestic and international uproar.

The President then prorogued parliament from October 27 to November 15 to help Rajapaksa  get 113 MPs to sustain himself in power. When Rajapaksa appeared to be failing in this, the President dissolved parliament and fixed January 5, 2019 as the date for fresh polls.

The opposition went to the Supreme Court challenging the dissolution. The court gave leave to proceed and passed a stay order effective till December 7.

With parliament brought back to life, the opposition hurriedly brought a Motion of No Confidence against the Rajapaksa government, disregarding the set procedure. The motion was passed amidst an uproar by a voice vote. A statement with 122 signatures was submitted to the Speaker as proof of voting for the motion.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa and President Sirisena vehemently opposed the manner in which the motion was introduced and passed. There was no debate.

While Rajapaksa said that he is not enamored  of the Premiership, and prefers to come back to power through a fresh election, the President said that he will allow an MNC and accept parliament’s verdict, provided the process adhered to the sanctioned procedure.

(The images at the top is that of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and incumbent PM Mahinda Rajapaksa)

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