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118 MPs resolve that Rajapaksa’s appointment was illegal, Sirisena remains defiant

Photograph: @HarshadeSilvaMP

A meeting with 118 Sri Lankan parliamentarians earlier today resolved that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa was illegal and unconstitutional, according to reports in the Colombo press, while President Sirisena remained defiant. 

Crucially, amongst the lawmakers who met, were MPs from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and JVP, who have thus far not pledged an allegiance to either Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Last week Sri Lanka plunged into political turmoil after the president sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed Rajapaksa, who oversaw the mass slaughter of Tamils in 2009.

The UNP also submitted a no-confidence motion against the appointment of Rajapaksa to the Secretary General of Parliament today. The motion, dated November 2, 2018 is signed by the House Leader, Lakshman Kiriella. 

TNA parliamentarian M A Sumanthiran tweeted that 118 MPs had met “MPP resolving that purported removal of PM and purported appointment of another PM by Prez on 26 Oct 2018 was unconstitutional, illegal and demand that Speaker disregard the purported prorogation of Parliament and convene Parliament forthwith”.

The Daily Mirror also added that the lawmakers had resolved,

“We also don’t accept any of the decisions and appointments made by the President that followed the appointment of Mr. Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister”.

The meeting comes as both Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe tussle for a majority in parliament in the struggle for the post of Sri Lanka’s prime minister.

The president remains defiant however that his decision to appoint Rajapaksa does not violate the constitution. 

"I had a very successful telephone conversation with UN Secretary General H.E. António Guterres last evening. I assured him that the appointment of the new Prime Minister has been done in keeping with the Constitution of Sri Lanka," he tweeted. 

Last night the former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and MP Harsha de Silva met with Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees according to Colombo press reports to ask "if there was a way out of the impasse."

"The answer was a firm 'No'. He [Wickremesinghe] said the only way has to be a vote in Parliament," he was quoted by Colombo Page as saying.