Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Tens of thousands march to support new Lanka government

Tens of thousands march to support new Lanka government

Wickremesinghe told The Sunday Morning in an exclusive brief interview that he remained confident that he would have the numbers to show in Parliament and remain as Prime Minister.

Mr Sirisena suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Ranil Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former president, on October 26.

Mr. Rajapaksa's supporters have accused Mr. Wickremesinghe of selling Sri Lanka's assets, citing a 99-year lease agreement his government struck with China Merchants Port Holdings Co.

During Monday's rally Rajapakse urged smaller parties, which have emerged as kingmakers, to support him over Wickremesinghe.

But parliament's speaker Karu Jayasuriya warned on Monday the president's actions were illegal and he would not recognise Rajapakse as prime minister.

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

Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe smiles as he speaks during an interview with Reuters at the Prime Minister's official residence in Colombo November 3, 2018.

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"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. Sirisena was a political ally to Rajapaksa and minister of health under the latter's rule. It means that the speaker still recognizes a Wickremesinghe-led Parliament.

President Sirisena said he appointed a new person who is state friendly and who has a clear vision for the country and one who would not bow down to foreign agendas.

"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.

The alliance had "decided to vote in favour of the no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa", the statement said. "I trust you and you can always trust me", Rajapaksa said. "The public must protest the way the MPs are being brought for money", Abeywardena said.

The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support, ending a almost decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.

"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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