The standoff between President Maithripala Sirisena and United National Party (UNP) led Parliamentarians showed signs of easing yesterday with the Executive agreeing to accept the decision of the Legislature if the vote for no confidence motion is taken following ‘Parliamentary conventions and proper process’ and Clause No. 1 of the document is omitted.
Representatives of parties who supported the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Government appointed by Sirisena after the shock sacking of sitting Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe on 26 October met the President yesterday with hopes of ending the ongoing battle between the Executive and the Legislature. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who was engaged in a battle of words with Sirisena, was also present at the meeting spanning over two hours.
“The President informed them to show majority following Parliamentary conventions,” the statement issued by the President’s Media Division said.
The President also agreed to not prorogue Parliament and to keep all members of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa’s camp under check to ensure a vote by name is possible, a UNP Spokesperson told Daily FT.
The statement also said that discussion focused on Clauses of the no confidence motion passed on Wednesday with Sirisena objecting to one Clause.
“Attention was drawn to presenting the same motion moved yesterday (Wednesday) tomorrow (Friday) after omitting Clause No. 1. Further, the President requested the representatives to take the vote by name.”
Clause No. 1 in the no confidence motion, which Sirisena objected, declares that the two Gazettes issued by the President on 26 October, removing the sitting Prime Minister and appointing a new one, unconstitutional and null and void.
“The Gazette Extraordinary Nos. 209/43, 2094/43A, and 2094/44 dated 26 October 2018 promulgated by the President, and the purported acts and appointments referred to therein, are unconstitutional, and are null and void and of no force or effect in law,” the no confidence motion states.
The President on Wednesday accused the Speaker of acting in violation of the Constitution, Standing Orders and conventions of the Parliament in response to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s letter informing him of the outcome of the no confidence motion. Upon receiving the letter, the meeting scheduled for Thursday morning between party leaders who were in support of the no confidence motion and the President was cancelled.
In response, the Speaker, defending his position, told the President in writing that the vote taken was constitutional, noting that the behaviour of Rajapaksa’s supporters and his camp disrupted the proceedings of the House, leading to taking the vote by name, which Sirisena had found fault with in his letter.
“I also wish to state with responsibility that all 122 Members of Parliament who voted for the motion were present at the House yesterday. Amongst them were some Ministers and Members of Parliament of the Government.
Though I made a respectful request thrice, appealing for their support to duly take the vote, I was not given any opportunity for taking such a vote, and accordingly, in terms of the Standing Order 47(1), I had to take the vote by voices and declare that it had been passed by the majority,” Jayasuriya told the President, requesting him to watch the recordings of the procedures of the day to gain a better understanding.
As the meeting with the President and UNP-led party leaders concluded, the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp rushed to convene and strategise for the day.
Rajapaksa loyalist and Parliamentarian from Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Udaya Gammanpila declared the next 24 hours crucial in a twitter message.