Sri Lanka opposition seeks no-confidence vote against government

Sri Lanka’s main opposition party on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, issued a no-confidence declaration aiming at ousting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet and blaming them of failing in their constitutional duty to provide a decent living standards amid the island nation's worst economic crisis in memory

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, May 04, 2022, 09:43 AM IST
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Mahinda Rajapaksa, left, and his brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa wave to supporters during a party convention held to announce the presidential candidacy in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aug. 11, 2019 | AP

Sri Lanka's main Opposition party SJB on Tuesday handed over to the parliamentary Speaker motions of no-confidence against the SLPP coalition government and embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, even as the government announced the appointment of a Cabinet sub-committee to look into the proposal for a new Constitution.

“We met the Speaker at his residence and handed over two no-trust motions, the first one against the President under Article 42 of the Constitution and the other against the government," Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said.

The main Tamil party along with the former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party's (UNP) are to jointly move a no trust motion against the president, which would imply that the House had lost confidence in the President.

Experts said if the government would be defeated in the SJB motion, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Cabinet would have to resign. The TNA/UNP motion has no legal binding for the President to resign. The TNA/UNP motion against the President has no legal binding on him to resign.

Bandara said that the party met the Speaker at his residence and submitted two no-trust motions — “the first one against the President under Article 42 of the Constitution and the other against the government.”

Another no-trust motion was moved by the main Tamil party, TNA, and the United National Party against the President. According to news agency PTI, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet will be forced to resign if the SJB motion is passed. However, the TNA/UNP motion is not legally binding on the President.

On Tuesday, the government announced the appointment of a Cabinet sub-committee to look at the proposal for a brand new Constitution. The amendment would allow the PM to create an accountable administration that met the people’s aspirations.

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy after the country's recent announcement to suspend payments on its foreign loans. The country faces repayments of $7 billion of foreign loans this year of the $ 25 billion it is scheduled to pay by 2026. Sri Lanka has less than than $ 1 billion in foreign reserves.

The foreign currency crisis has limited imports and caused severe shortages of essential goods like fuel, cooking gas, medicine and food. People stand in long lines for hours to buy what they can and many return home with little, if any, of what they were seeking.

The United People’s Force's motion also accuses top government officials of excessively printing money, hurting agricultural production by banning chemical fertilizer to make the production fully organic, failing to order COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner and buying them later at higher prices.

Protesters on Tuesday were in their 25th day of their occupation of the entrance to the president's office, demanding the resignations of Rajapaksa family members who have ruled Sri Lanka for the last two decades.

(with inputs from agencies)

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