COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has expressed hope that incumbent Maithripala Sirisena – who was responsible for his ouster in 2015 – will support a no-confidence motion backed by the Joint Opposition against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The motion scheduled for April 4 was handed over to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya by the Joint Opposition last week against Wickremesinghe, accusing him of financial mismanagement and failing to tackle anti-Muslim riots early this month in the central Kandy district.
“It is now up to the President (Sirisena) to ensure the victory of the motion by getting his SLFP members to support it,” Rajapaksa told reporters.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is part of the unity government with Wickremesinghe is yet to decide on the way they will vote on the motion.
Wickremesinghe, 68, had resisted a call from Sirisena to resign following a crushing defeat to Rajapaksa’s new party Sri Lanka People’s Front in the February 10 local election.
It is no secret that Sirisena wants Wickremesinghe’s ouster so that he could replace him with his own choice.
Wickremesinghe was recently replaced as law and order minister after clashes erupted in the Kandy district.
Last week, the president also removed key institutions, including the Central Bank, from the control of Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena in 2015 quit the Rajapaksa government to join hands with Wickremesinghe, the then main opposition leader, to defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election ending his 10-year rule.
Rajapaksa said if Wickremesinghe were to be defeated in the motion on April 4, the Joint Opposition would press Sirisena to dissolve parliament to hold a fresh election for parliament.
Constitutionally, the current parliament could not be dissolved before February 2020.
It requires a motion adopted with 2/3rds in the 225 member assembly to call for snap elections.
Rajapaksa is constitutionally barred from contesting for the presidential election for a third time.
However, he can become the prime minister.