Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Ranil says US, Japan freeze aid over political crisis

Ranil says US, Japan freeze aid over political crisis

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena announced on Sunday (Nov 4) that parliament would reconvene a week later than expected, prolonging a bitter power struggle that has crippled the country.

Wickremesinghe has refused to vacate his official residence claiming he is the lawful prime minister while thousands of his supporters keep vigil.

Wickremesinghe who branded Sirisena's October 26 action to sack him a constitutional coup maintains that he holds majority. However, as corruption remains a large problem for Sri Lankan democracy, expect such a decision to be marred by allegations of bribery.

Most of the remaining 21 MPs - including the TNA - are set to oppose Rajapakse, observers said.

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The protest was held under the patronage of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Rajapaksa in support of the new government which was appointed a week ago.

But his faction has pressed ahead with forming a new government, naming an ally to a senior leadership post in parliament despite the speaker refusing to recognise the appointment.

Manusha Nanayakkara, who was in Sirisena/Rajapaksa original list of 96 MPs, said in a letter to Sirisena Tuesday that in his opinion Wickremesinghe was still the legitimate prime minister as accepted by the parliamentary speaker Karu Jayasuriya.

"I wish to emphasize that I am compelled to accept the status that existed previously until such time that they (the pro-Wickremesinghe lawmakers) and the new political alliance prove their majority in Parliament", he said.

He said that farmers, government servants, fishermen, and the working mass who were gripped by the economic principles of Ranil Wickremesinghe should be freed.

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Mr Rajapaksa's supporters have accused Mr Wickremesinghe of selling Sri Lanka's assets, citing a 99-year lease agreement his government struck with Hong Kong conglomerate China Merchants Port Holdings Co Ltd last year to operate a failing port developed with Chinese debt during Mr Rajapaksa's decade-long presidency.

GL Peiris, a leading Rajapaksa backer, however said the no confidence motion can not be taken up in a hurry.

At least eight legislators from the UNP and a member of an opposition party have now crossed over to the Sirisena and Rajapaksa-led United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had the backing of 96 legislators prior to the crisis.

After sacking Wickremesinghe, Sirisena announced that he made the replacement in part because Wickremesinghe and a Cabinet colleague were behind an alleged assassination plot against him.

He resigned as the deputy minister of Labour and Foreign Employment to leave the Sirisena camp and join Wickremesinghe.

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