Sri Lanka president summons Parliament after PM turmoil

Supporters of United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe taking part in a rally near the Temple Trees prime minister's residence in Colombo on Tuesday.

Sri Lanka will lose duty free access to the European Union if the country goes back to violating human rights, an ambassador has said, amid a political crisis sparked by a contested appointment of a new prime minister.

He shut parliament a day after sacking Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and appointing former president Mahinda Rajapakse to the post.

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Karu Paranavithana, a lawmaker from Wickremesinghe's United National Front, welcomed the announcement, calling it "a great victory" for the people. This is disgraceful in that the government of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has fought to preserve one of Asia's oldest democratic systems, to hold the rule of law, and to fight against corruption.

Some 120 lawmakers were expected by Sunday to support a no-confidence vote against Rajapaksa, according to AP count.


In a national address on the following Sunday, Sirisena explained that he sacked Wickremesinghe mainly because of the alleged involvement of a Cabinet minister in a plot to assassinate him. Details of the alleged plot have not been disclosed and Wickremesinghe has repeatedly denied the accusation. There was confusion since Thursday on the date when the parliamentary deadlock would end as Sirisena had suspended the sittings until November 16.

After winning the presidency as a neutral candidate in 2015, Sirisena accepted an offer from Rajapaksa to take over his Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

Wickremesinghe said in an interview with the AP that there is credible evidence that Rajapaksa's party is attempting to buy support in Parliament.

On Friday, a member of parliament from Wickremesinghe's party, Palitha Range Bandara, said a caller from the Rajapaksa camp urged him to defect before the parliament session.

Rajapaksa, whose government was accused of atrocities and corruption in the final years of the civil war, maintains popularity among Sri Lanka's Sinhalese ethnic majority group, who credit him with ending the conflict with the Tamil rebels.


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