Rajapaksa Rejected : Sri Lankan MP’s pass a no confidence motion
Following phase one of the constitutional crisis, Sri Lanka has entered the next phase. As the plot thickens and the ‘heads of the country’ make decisions for their naked self-interests, Sri Lankans watch while democracy gets shuttled in and out as new developments take place with the latest one restoring it.
Around two weeks back, in an unexpected turn of events, President Maithripala Srisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister and suspended the parliament till November 16. Srisena who collaborated with Wickremesinghe in the first place to oust Rajapaksa from power chose Rajapaksa to replace Wickremesinghe to safeguard his own position for the next election after disagreements with Wickremesinghe over a long period of time and as Rajapaksa started gaining support from the majority Sinhalese population.
And just when everything seemed so grim at the prospect of Rajapaksa coming to power who is known for committing human right violations against the minority Tamil community and use his position to amass more and more power and wealth during his tenure as the president, a ray of hope glistened. On Tuesday that is the 13th of November, the supreme court made the president’s questionable ruling of dissolving the parliament ineffective and called for fresh elections in the parliament to get clarity on the Who’s-the-prime-minister? situation. Thus, making it one of the most remarkable verdict in the history of Sri Lanka and restoring democratic ways of functioning. The fresh elections where the MP’s would vote was decided to be held on Wednesday at 10:00 am. As a result of which Wickremesinghe in a victorious mood exclaimed, “The powers of the president are limited and he must act according to the law. He is not above the law”.
With uncertainty about everything that was happening, the parliament convened with Wickremesinghe’s allies wearing black sashes reading ‘for democracy’. The session took place with aggression and disorder caused by the allies of Rajapaksa but Members of the Parliament managed to vote. As the votes were counted, the result revealed that out of 225, 122 did not want Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. Amidst all the hassle bustle in the room, Jayasuriya the speaker of the parliament passed the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa.
This new development has certainly made clear that Rajapaksa is not the PM of Sri Lanka, but what has made the situation more intense is the fact that it has not resumed Wickremesinghe’s power. Thus, Sri Lanka where the government structure is such that both the president and the prime minister are more or less equally powerful does not have a prime minister currently. Despite the vote, there is extreme confusion as to what is happening and will happen. There are also people like Rajapaksa’s son (also an MP) who claim that this proves nothing and that this vote conducted by Jayasuriya was unethical.
Maintaining ‘unexpected’ as the main theme of the political events taking place in Sri Lanka, Ranga Bandara an MP disclosed to the speaker of the parliament that he was bribed by Rajapaksa’s aides USD 2.8m to change his vote. Rajapaksa is using every means possible to come back into power. By, showing Srisena the carrot of staying in power and trying to buy MP’s votes he is leaving no stone unturned. Given his past, even though the motion was against him, the question is how effective will it be?
Sri Lanka’s political chaos is in full swing, with the international community and the minority community in Sri Lanka observing carefully while as the events unfold while wishing upon a democratic future for Sri Lanka.
Tripat Sekhon is a Research Intern at The Kootneeti