The Sri Lankan Parliament voted against newly-appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The Parliament reconvened on Tuesday for the first time since the political turmoil engulfed the island nation on October 26.
The Jana Vimukti Party (JVP) handed over a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa to the Speaker. Before the vote was taken, Rajapaksa and his son, Member of Parliament Namal, walked out of the Parliament.
"JVP handed over a no-confidence motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government to Speaker at the party leaders’ meeting. The speaker said that the House will decide whether it could be taken up today," MP and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress chief Rauff Hakeem told BBC Sinhala.
As chaos ensued in Parliament, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya declared that the government under appointed PM Rajapaksa did not have a majority. Members of United People's Freedom Alliance, headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, reportedly stormed the well of the House. However, based on a voice vote that was taken, the Speaker declared that the government didn’t have a majority.
However, the number of votes had not been counted. Members of the House, who voted in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa, signed a motion to reconfirm. Wickremesinghe reportedly has the support of 122 lawmakers in the Parliament.
Prior to the vote, the Parliament agreed to suspend all standing orders of the Sri Lankan Parliament. Following the chaos, Parliament was suspended till 10 am on Thursday.
Members of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which is headed by Sirisena, said that they would not accept the Speaker’s action. According to journalist Roel Raymond, the UPFA said Rajapaksa is the legal Prime Minister.
The turmoil began after when President Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post. On November 9, Sirisena signed a motion to dissolve the 225-member Parliament and ordered for snap polls.
The dissolution was stayed by the country’s Supreme Court on Tuesday. The top court also restrained the Election Commission from proceeding with elections. In its interim order on Tuesday, the Supreme Court stayed two gazettes — one dissolving the Parliament, and the other ordering snap polls for January 5.
The court stayed the gazette till December 7, and fixed the dates for the next hearing on December 5, 6 and 7.
The United National Party, headed by Ranil Wickremesinghe, said that the no-confidence motion had been passed.