Published: Mon, November 05, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa

Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa

Thousands of Sri Lankans marched Monday in support of a new government led by the country's former strongman, highlighting the political polarization in the Indian Ocean island nation.

Mr Wickremesinghe said his party will step up a public campaign for Parliament to be called and he be allowed to prove his majority. The suspension is aimed at helping Rajapaksa gain parliamentary majority by engineering defections from Wickremesinghe's party and other allied parties to build the 113 seats required for the majority, experts said.

In a statement, the Tamil National Alliance said Rajapaksa's appointment was a violation of the Constitution's 19th amendment.

On Saturday, the Tamil National Alliance -an ethnic minority Tamil party- said that it will support a no-confidence motion to be brought against Rajapaksa, after one lawmaker from their party joined Rajapaksa's government.

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

Huge amounts are reportedly being offered to defectors.

Kehaliya Rambukwella, a spokesman for the new government, said it would renegotiate the 99-year lease for the port, which Rajapaksa's supporters deride as an outright sale.

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He said that the President met the Colombo based diplomats earlier, to apprise them of the unfolding political situation in the country.

Japan had also put on hold plans to extend a soft loan of US$1.4 billion for a light railway project, he said.

While welcoming.Australia's friendly relationship with Sri Lanka, we as Australians of Sri Lankan origin wish to reiterate that Sri Lanka is a sovereign country with a long history of Parliamentary democracy has the wisdom and the right to manage its domestic issues as much as Australian Coalition Government democratically has to seek the support of the cross benchers in the approval of new bills.

It expressed alarm at ministerial positions being given for changing political loyalties.

Among the causes for the animosity between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena is Wickremesinghe's refusal to back the president's bid to stand in the next election in late 2019. In these circumstances the Gazette notification declaring that the Prime Minister had been removed and another Prime Minister appointed are unconstitutional and illegal.

"We have asked the president to immediately call parliament and end this crisis", TNA legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan told AFP.

Critics say the suspension of Parliament was meant to give Rajapaksa time to gather enough support to survive a no-confidence vote when lawmakers reconvene November 14.

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