Sri Lanka grinds to political halt amid chaos
Sri Lanka appeared to have ground to a political halt on Thursday, with the speaker of parliament saying there was no functioning prime minister or cabinet after a no-confidence vote the previous day.
His comments came after weeks of political turmoil in the island, off the southeast coast of India, culminating in noisy chaos on the floor of parliament on Thursday.
Parliament passed the noconfidence motion against recently appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government with the backing of 122 of the 225 lawmakers in a voice vote, followed by a signed document.
But President Maithripala Sirisena said he could not accept the no-confidence vote as it appeared to have ignored the constitution, parliamentary procedure and tradition.
“We expect the speaker to be an independent speaker and not a close friend of your party or the West,” Rajapaksa told parliament.
He also alleged the previous government led by ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was corrupt.
“Since the no-confidence vote was passed yesterday, according to the constitution, the cabinet of ministers has been dissolved and no new prime minister or ministers appointed, today nobody will be accepted as prime minister or any other ministers,” Jayasuriya told parliament.
In a letter to Sirisena, the speaker justified the vote of noconfidence, saying he had been forced to hold a voice vote after his pleas for a peaceful vote were ignored.