Sri Lanka leader calls for third no confidence vote for Rajapaksa

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Legislators of the Sri Lankan parliament confront Speaker Karu Jayasuriya as the parliamentary session turned violent on Nov. 15,2018 after several legislators called for another no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse. Xinhua

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has asked an all-party meeting to hold a third vote on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, deepening the country’s political crisis.

Mr Sirisena called the all party leaders’ meeting after Mr Rajapaksa, his choice to lead the government, was voted out twice within days by a majority in a no-confidence motion.

A lawmaker loyal to Mr Sirisena told reporters that the president rejected the outcome of the second vote held on Friday, which potentially strengthened the hand of Ranil Wickremesinghe who is seeking to return as prime minister.

“To decide on the no confidence motion presented against the government, president noted that he wanted a vote with a name call or electronically displayed,” Mr Sirisena’s office said in a statement.

The country’s parliament descended into chaos for a third straight day last Friday as lawmakers supporting Mr Rajapaksa threw books, chili paste, water bottles and furniture at the speaker to try to disrupt the no-confidence vote.

Mr Sirisena’s office said all the party leaders at the Sunday meeting agreed to have a disciplined legislature when proceedings started yesterday.

Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna (JVP) party, did not participate in the meeting.

“We believe that refusing to accept the formerly adopted no-confidence motion that rejects the appointment of the nominal premiership and coming out with various types of cheap excuses are not appropriate for a President of a country,” Mr Dissanayake said in a letter to Mr Sirisena, a copy of which was seen by Reuters.

Mr Sirisena late last month removed and replaced Mr Wickremesinghe with Mr Rajapaksa, plunging the island off India’s southeast coast into political turmoil.

With parliament scheduled to reconvene, Mr Sirisena appeared faced with the choice of either re-appointing Mr Wickremesinghe, whom he has said he will not bring back, or allowing the crisis to fester.

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