In the face of growing calls to end week-long political impasse in the country, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has reconvened Parliament on November 5.
“Parliament will reconvene on Monday,” a top official at the President’s office told The Hindu on Thursday morning, confirming Mr. Sirisena’s decision to partially revoke his order that suspended the House till November 16.
The announcement makes a floor test possible, where controversially deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe — sacked by Mr. Sirisena on Friday — and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, appointed in his place, could prove their competing claims to majority in the 225-member House.
As of Thursday morning, the Wickremesinghe-led United National Front (UNF), as well as the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine, had a little over 100 MPs each.
All eyes on TNA, JVP
All eyes are on the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which has 16 MPs representing the island’s north and east, and the leftist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with six MPs. Their vote might prove decisive in a close contest.
Mr. Rajapaksa has already sought TNA leader R. Sampanthan’s support, but the senior Tamil leader said he could consider the option only if Mr. Rajapaksa shared a clear plan of action on measures to resolve the pending concerns of the war-affected Tamil minority.
A snap move by President Sirisena on Friday last plunged the island nation into a political crisis, with two Prime Ministers and parallel Cabinets. It followed his withdrawal of support from the country’s national unity government, and marked his realignment with former rival, Mr. Rajapaksa. Mr. Sirisena prorogued Parliament shortly after, sparking considerable domestic and international concern over what many deemed an “unconstitutional” move, though his office has claimed following the due process.
Meanwhile, a spokesman at the Speaker’s office told local media that when Parliament reconvenes, Mr. Rajapaksa would be given the Prime Minister’s seat, based on the gazette issued by the President appointing him as Prime Minister.