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Chilli powder and chairs hurled at police as violence continues in Sri Lanka's parliament


Parliamentarians hurl objects at Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is being shielded by a police escort.

A second day of chaos set off inside Sri Lanka’s parliament as lawmakers hurled chairs, books and water mixed with chilli powder at the Speaker, who had to be shielded by a heavy police escort in the chambers as the island's political crisis deepened.

UNP MP Gamini Jayawickrama Perera ​

Parliamentarians loyal to Mahinda Rajapaksa attempted to block speaker Karu Jayasuriya from entering the chamber and occupied his seat, protesting against him and his UNP party.

All lawmakers were reportedly subjected to a body search by security officers before entering parliament today. Nevertheless, MPs hurled chairs, books and bottles of water mixed with chilli powder at the speaker and his police entourage, as he entered this morning.

“They are trying to assault the police,” said UNP MP Harsha de Silva. “Pandemonium,” he declared.

UNP MP Gamini Jayawickrama and JVP MP Vijitha Herath were amongst the parliamentarians injured in the clashes. “They have behaved as beasts, not as human beings,” Herath told reporters after the violence.

Tamil National Alliance MP M A Sumanthiran said on Facebook that he was the target of a book thrown, but that the book had hit UNP MP Malik Samarawickrama instead.

Caption: "Hon Malik Samarawickrema, hit by a book thrown targeting me, in Parliament today!" (M A Sumanthiran)

Britain’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka criticised the “deplorable behaviour” of Sri Lankan lawmakers, stating that “no parliament can perform its role when its own members stop it from doing so”.

JVP MP Vijitha Herath​ receiving treatment.

Prevented from getting to the Speaker’s Chair, Jayasuriya set up a makeshift bench behind police lines and attempted to hear a no confidence motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa for a second day. Despite the chaos, Jayasuriya declared that the motion was reportedly passed as he hurriedly took a vote by name.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya behind a police escort.

Following the violence parliament has been adjourned until Monday the 19th of November.

Rajapaksa’s SLPP party tweeted that “the real reason behind today’s unrest in parliament was attributed by the bias & undemocratic behavior of the Speaker”.

“He continues to act in favor of the UNP,” the party declared. “The only way out of this situation is to go back to the people of this country and seek a clear mandate to govern.”

“We say Mahinda Rajapaksa heads the government,” said Dinesh Gunawardena, a Rajapaksa ally. “We shall agitate for elections. The country is in anarchy. The parliament is in anarchy.”

Speaking in parliament yesterday, where violence between parliamentarians initially flared up, Mahinda Rajapaksa accused the speaker of being “hand in glove with certain Western embassies” and called for snap elections. Photographs emerged from yesterday's session showing UNP MP Palitha Thewarapperuma wielding a knife during this morning's chaotic parliamentary session, which descended into violence with a UPFA MP throwing a waste bin at the Speaker and one MP being taken to hospital with injuries. 

Germany's ambassador to Colombo criticised the violent scenes in parliament tweeting it was a "bad day for democracy in Sri Lanka."