COLOMBO, Nov. 15 — Sri Lanka’s parliament erupted in violence on Thursday as several legislators called for another no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse shortly after Rajapakse invited all parties to go in for a parliamentary election to solve the ongoing political crisis.
Legislators from Rajapakse’s party and ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s party broke out in fist fights on the floor of the House, when things were also hurled at Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. He had to leave the floor of Parliament, television footage showed.
Some legislators suffered minor injuries while one legislator was rushed to hospital.
At the start of Thursday’s parliamentary session, Jayasuriya said he would not recognize any legislators as government members as a no-confidence motion on the government had been passed on Wednesday and President Maithripala Sirisena had been informed.
However, Rajapakse, seated on the prime minister’s chair, said in a special statement that political parties must leave aside their differences and go in for a parliamentary election as this would solve the ongoing crisis.
“We want to go in for an election. When I took over on Oct. 26, the country was already suffering economically and with a high cost of living. My party had a responsibility to act and now we must all go in for an election,” Rajapakse said.
He further blamed the speaker for not following parliamentary traditions by calling for a hurried no-confidence vote a day earlier.
The violence brought the parliamentary session to an abrupt halt.
The speaker later called for a meeting between party leaders and a decision was announced that parliament would be adjourned till Nov. 21.
Sri Lanka’s parliament which convened on Wednesday, took a hurried no-confidence vote on Rajapakse’s government, which the speaker said had been passed with a majority.
However, the government said the speaker had violated parliamentary norms by calling for a hurried vote.
Wickremesinghe told journalists on Wednesday that a motion with the signature of 122 legislators in the 225-member parliament had been handed over to the speaker, in support of the no-confidence motion, following which the new government would cease to exist.
Jayasuriya also has written to President Sirisenasaying the no-confidence motion has been passed against the government with a majority votes.
However, later on Wednesday President Sirisena, in an official letter to Jayasuriya said he would not accept the results of the no-confidence motion as the speaker had ignored the constitution and parliamentary traditions.
Sri Lanka has been embroiled in a political unrest since Oct. 26, when President Sirisena surprisingly sacked his cabinet and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and appointed former President Rajapakse to the post. The president also appointed a new caretaker government. – XINHUA