Sri Lanka’s sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has claimed to be the country’s premier, saying he has the confidence of Parliament and will prove his majority, notwithstanding former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa’s appointment in his place by President Maithripala Sirisena.
His comments came hours before Sirisena lifted the suspension of Parliament and summoned a meeting of the legislature on Monday to end the current political crisis in the country.
Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former president Rajapaksa as the prime minister in a dramatic turn of events last Friday.
The President also suspended Parliament until November 16, which experts said was meant to buy time to engineer crossovers from Wickremesinghe’s side to Rajapaksa in the 225 member parliament to reach the 113 working majority mark.
Wickramasinghe, who has refused to accept his dismissal, argues that he cannot legally be removed until he loses the support of Parliament.
Sirisena was under increasing political and diplomatic pressure to reconvene Parliament and resolve the crisis.
The President has agreed to call a parliamentary session on November 5, officials at Rajapaksa’s office said.
Rajapaksa has so far managed to rope in five lawmakers from Wickramasinghe’s party to bolster his strength to 101. Despite the cross-overs, it was unclear if Rajapaksa has the 113 votes he requires to prove the majority.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s United National Party (UNP) had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.