Crisis continues in Sri Lanka

Speaker requests President Sirisena to convene Parliament
Sri Lanka’s political deadlock entered its sixth day on Wednesday, with the sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, appointed in his place, vying for legitimacy. Mr. Rajapaksa, holding additional charge as Finance Minister in the new Cabinet, said: “We have to stabilise the exchange rate and protect foreign reserves.”
Speaker meets Sirisena
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who has acknowledged that Mr. Wickremesinghe is entitled to his rights until someone else proves majority in Parliament, met President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday evening, with a request to convene the House.
There is no official word yet on the outcome of the meeting. Sri Lanka has been witnessing political upheaval since President Sirisena on Friday pulled his faction out of the government, and immediately swore in Mr. Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. Mr. Wickremesinghe, in turn, has said he remains the Prime Minister, terming the new appointment “illegal.” Mr. Wickremesinghe and his supporters have been pressing for a recall of Parliament, claiming that he has the majority in the 225-member House. A floor test will have to wait since Mr. Sirisena has prorogued the Parliament until November 16. Recognising that a fortnight is a long time in politics, over 125 MPs — including from the Tamil National Alliance and the Janata Vimukthi Peramuna in Opposition — have written to the Speaker, seeking a swift recall of Parliament. International actors, including the EU and the U.S., have weighed in, echoing the position.
Activists’ petition
On Wednesday, a group of activists handed over a petition to the Speaker with 16,000 signatures, urging the government to reconvene the House. A top UN envoy met President Sirisena on Wednesday and discussed the current developments. UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer conveyed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s earlier message expressing “great concern” over the crisis and called on the government to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and process. The President assured the envoy that “the government has taken all the steps in accordance with the Constitution of the country,” a statement said.
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