Rajapaksa may free Tamil prisoners in support bid

Evarado Alatorre
Noviembre 8, 2018

Sirisena has suspended parliament, allowing Rajapakse time to tempt defectors from other parties and prove his majority.

They voiced anger over the UNP leader's arbitrary decision to remain in Temple Trees even after a new Prime Minister is appointed in compliance with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

But his faction has pressed ahead with forming a new government, naming an ally to a senior leadership post in parliament despite the speaker refusing to recognise the appointment.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) could tip a vote to decide between the two rivals and has already said it would vote against Rajapakse in a no-confidence motion when parliament reconvenes.

Rajapaksa had been bolstered by at least 9 defections from Wickremesinghe's United National Party and Tamil National Alliance.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has announced that the country's Parliament will be reconvened on November 14.

In the statement released on Monday in Sinhala, Jayasuriya said a majority of members in Parliament have submitted a petition to him stating that the changes made in Parliament recently by President Sirisena are unconstitutional.

So far Rajapaksa has 100 MPs on his side while sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs in the 225-member assembly.

The role of President in Sri Lanka is not like that of India. He was sworn in as the deputy minister only on November 1.

Parliament road from Borella was a sea of heads as the crowds kept streaming into the Parliament Roundabout where the rally under the theme "Ratama Rakina Jana Mahimaya" presided over by the President and the Prime Minister was held.

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Meanwhile, thousands of supporters continue to occupy Wickremesinghe's official residence saying they would resist any move by Sirisena to evict their prime minister. He said that he has majority support in parliament and neither did he resign from the premiership nor has he ceased to be a member of parliament.

"People praised President Maithripala Sirisena for appointing me as the Prime Minister endorsing the real mandate received at the last Local Government polls", Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

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Mr Rajapaksa's supporters have accused Mr Wickremesinghe of selling Sri Lanka's assets, citing a 99-year lease agreement his government struck with Hong Kong conglomerate China Merchants Port Holdings Co Ltd last year to operate a failing port developed with Chinese debt during Mr Rajapaksa's decade-long presidency.

Mr Sirisena and Mr Rajapaksa arrived at the rally amid loud cheers.

Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka to a military defeat of Tamil separatist guerrillas in 2009 but has since faced widespread allegations of human rights abuse and targeting of Tamil civilians.

His tenure was also marred by accusations as his security forces were blamed for disappearing, torturing and murdering opposition politicians, aid workers, activists, journalists and dissidents.

He said that farmers, government servants, fishermen, and the working mass who were gripped by the economic principles of Ranil Wickremesinghe should be freed.

"Foreign countries are trying to take our resources, take our land", said Mithra Kumara Jayasinghe, a wedding photographer at the rally who said he had voted for Rajapaksa the two times he was elected president, in 2005 and 2010, and when he lost a re-election bid in 2015.

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