Lanka Speaker says he will not recognise Rajapaksa as PM unless it is proved in Parliament

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COLOMBO, Nov 5 (PTI): 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.

Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Rajapaksa, a controversial former president, on October 26.

The Speaker had expected parliament to reconvene on November 7. However, Sirisena Sunday issued notice to reconvene Parliament on November 14.

Jayasuriya said 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.

The decision announced last night by President Maithripala Sirisena to summon the Parliament two days ahead of his scheduled opening won’t lead to the resolving of the constitutional crisis, ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe’s United National Party (UNP) senior Vajira Abeywardena said on Monday.

“We can’t treat November 14 as the date on which we can settle this issue. The law has been violated. They have delayed the date for reconvening parliament so that they could buy over MPs. The public must protest the way the MPs are being brought for money,” Abeywardena said.

Wickremesinghe’s suporters alleged that large sums of money had been offered to change sides.

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