Sri Lankan Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Monday slammed President Maithripala Sirisena, saying it was “anti-democratic” to sack Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and suspend the Parliament, and asserted that he will not recognise Mahinda Rajapaksa as the premier unless it is proved by a floor test.
The tough statement from Jayasuriya came after Sirisena announced on Sunday that parliament would reconvene on November 14, a week later than he had promised.
The speaker said Sirisena had gone back on previous commitments to recall parliament on November 7.
In the statement released on Monday in Sinhala, Jayasuriya said a majority of members in Parliament have submitted a petition to him stating that the changes made in Parliament recently by President Sirisena are unconstitutional.
In the name of justice and fair play I have to declare my position to the world that when a majority has pointed out that rights of the MPs have been usurped by preventing the lawful convening of Parliament,” Jayasuriya said.
A majority in Parliament has requested that all changes made have been anti-constitutional and against the traditions. They have urged me to recognise the status quo which prevailed prior to these changes. As such I have to recognize the status quo which prevailed before until the new party would be able to prove their majority,” Jayasuriya said, making it clear that he wants a parliamentary floor test.
As a result Rajapaksa will not be given the Prime Minister seat in Parliament as the current government members will need to sit in the opposition seats.
The Speaker had expected parliament to reconvene on November 7. However, Sirisena Sunday issued notice to reconvene Parliament on November 14.
Jayasuriya said that he had made several requests for Parliament to be reconvened early in order to resolve the political crisis.
The civil society organisations have demanded that Jayasuriya re-summon parliament on his own. Jayasuriya, however, refused to do so saying he was powerless unless the president consented.
Wickremesinghe’s suporters alleged that large sums of money had been offered to change sides.
Wickremsinghe’s United National Party (UNP) on Monday said Sirisena’s decision to summon parliament on November 14 will not lead to the resolving of the constitutional crisis.
The political crisis in Sri Lanka began after Sirisena’s broader front United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has decided to quit the unity government with Wickremesinghe’s UNP.
The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe’s support, ending a nearly decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.