Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Lankan parliament defeats no-confidence motion against president

A no-confidence motion against Sri Lankan President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was defeated in parliament on Tuesday, a comfortable victory for the troubled president amid nationwide protests demanding his resignation due to the country’s worst economic crisis.

Opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP MA Sumanthiran’s proposal to suspend a standing order in parliament to debate dissent against President Rajapaksa was defeated by a vote of 119 lawmakers, the Economy Next newspaper reported.

Only 68 lawmakers voted in favor of the proposal, saying it would give the 72-year-old president a comfortable victory.

The report said that with the proposal, the opposition wanted to demonstrate how President Rajapaksa’s call for resignation was reflected in the country’s legislature.

The main opposition Jana Balavegya (SJB) MP Laxman Kiriella backed the proposal.

Among those who voted against the proposal was newly elected Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, according to SJB MP Hersha de Silva.

Human rights lawyer Bhavani Fonseka tweeted after the vote that the defeat of the proposal exposed MPs protecting President Rajapaksa.

On Tuesday, parliament convened for the first time since the appointment of new Prime Minister Bikram Singh as the country prepares for major constitutional reforms amid the worst economic crisis.

Sumanthiran, who removed the proposal, wanted to suspend the standing order to continue the debate.

The government, however, objected to the suspension.

The Speaker then directed a vote on the question of suspending the standing order.

The government won the vote and forced the ruling party’s politicians to table a deferred motion on May 9 because of the violence.

Police on Monday said about 78 ruling party politicians had damaged property.

Opposition groups called for a boycott of the by-elections on Friday.

Sri Lanka has witnessed an unprecedented economic crisis.

The Rajapaksa government made some arbitrary decisions, such as banning the import of chemical fertilizers for organic farming and preventing them from leaning towards the International Monetary Fund, which led to the country’s worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

A crippling deficit in foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power outages and rising food prices have caused misery to the people.

Economic uncertainty triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and the demand for the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa.

President Gotabaya has fired his cabinet in Rajapaksa and appointed a young cabinet in response to demands for his resignation. Protests have been going on in front of his secretariat for more than a month.

On May 9, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the elder brother of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, resigned as prime minister to pave the way for the president to appoint an interim all-party government. On Thursday, Bikram Singh was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the country.

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