Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government

Sri Lanka's deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said his abrupt dismissal raised doubts about the future of democracy in the island

Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government

Sirisena's unexpected firing of Wickremesinghe, who served as prime minister in a unity government with Sirisena, has plunged the South Asian island nation into a constitutional crisis.

Whereas ousted PM Wickremesinghe argued that what Sirisena did was unconstitutional because as per Article 46 (2) of the 19th Amendment of the constitution passed in 2015, the president can not sack a Prime Minister who enjoys majority support in parliament. However, as corruption remains a large problem for Sri Lankan democracy, expect such a decision to be marred by allegations of bribery.

"We have united to work for the people", Rajapakse said, referring to their previous rivalry when Sirisena defeated him for the presidency in 2015.

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Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's legislator son Namal on Sunday indicated that the long held demand of the Tamil minority community to release all Tamil prisoners may be fulfilled soon, a move aimed at persuading the Tamil legislators to support Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa supporters have accused 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.

Sirisena was supported by Wickremesinghe three years ago but the two men have gradually drifted apart, leading to Wickremesinghe's shock sacking last month.

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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 majority of the members are of the view that the changes done in the parliament are unconstitutional and against the traditions", Karu Jayasuriya, the speaker of parliament from Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), said in a statement on Monday.

Former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, Cabinet, State, and Deputy Ministers, Parliamentarians, Provincial Council members, and members of Local Government bodies of the United People's Freedom Alliance, religious representatives, civil society organisations and Trade Union members joined the rally.

"In the name of justice and fair play I have to declare my position to the world that when a majority has pointed out that rights of the MPs have been usurped by preventing the lawful convening of parliament", Jayasuriya said.

GL Peiris, a leading Rajapaksa backer, however said the no confidence motion can not be taken up in a hurry. The President also requested former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to let the new government proceed with its business without any hindrance.

And in Sirisena's opinion, Wickremesinghe is not likely to command the confidence of parliament and has therefore lost the right to be Prime Minister.

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