By The “Sunday Times” Political Editor
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa faces removal next week after just six weeks in office, with Parliament set to approve a motion this coming Wednesday for his ouster.
The motion has been agreed to by President Maithripala Sirisena during consultations with Opposition parties, provided it does not describe his dissolution of Parliament as being illegal.
Mr. Rajapaksa has so far rejected calls to resign and insisted that President Sirisena, if he so wished, could remove him.
Following the removal of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNF-UPFA Cabinet on October 26, the latest twist occurred during protracted on-going negotiations to find a solution to the month-long constitutional crisis. UNF leaders are scheduled to meet President Sirisena today as well.
A motion by seven United National Party (UNP) MPs is certain to be passed after the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) declared that it would support a pre-October 26 government. Together, the UNF-TNA combine has a voting strength of 117 and President Maithripala Sirisena has assured Speaker Karu Jayasuriya he would respect the motion to be adopted by name or electronic vote.
With the passage of the motion, the UNF is expected to recommend UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as its Prime Ministerial nominee. However, President Sirisena remains adamant he will not reappoint Mr. Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister.
A no-confidence vote has already been passed by Parliament twice, once by voice vote and once by electronic voting. Wednesday’s vote will be for removal of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister.
A motion for the removal of the Prime Minister by Parliament will require the President to appoint a new Prime Minister from among the Members of Parliament and thereafter a Cabinet of Ministers in consultation with the new Prime Minister.
The Supreme Court, in the meantime, is to hear arguments on December 4,5,6 on the interim order it gave suspending the dissolution of Parliament by President Sirisena. A seven-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Nalin Perera will go into the constitutionality of the dissolution of Parliament.
Simultaneously, the Court of Appeal is hearing a Quo Warranto writ filed by Members of Parliament questioning the legality of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. The Court of Appeal will resume sittings tomorrow.
The motion before the House to be debated and voted upon on Wednesday calls upon the President to appoint a new Prime Minister in terms of Article 48(2) of the Constitution which details the procedure when such a motion is passed by Parliament.