Sri Lanka: Second no-confidence motion passed as violent clashes erupt in parliament
17 November 2018
Physical clashes, threats and counter-threats continued in the Sri Lankan parliament yesterday as rival factions fought to secure government control following the November 14 no confidence motion against President Sirisena’s October 26 appointment of Mahinda Rajapakse as prime minister.
Sirisena ousted Rajapakse through a US-backed regime-change operation in the 2015 presidential election then formed a government of national unity between his faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the opposition United National Party whose leader Ranil Wickremesinghe became prime minister. Washington was hostile to the Rajapakse government’s close ties with Beijing.
This coalition of “national unity” has now collapsed under the impact of growing opposition by workers and the poor.
Parliament reconvened on Thursday, one day after the no confidence vote, to hear a statement by Rajapakse. He accused the previous Sirisena-Wickremesinghe of leading the country into a catastrophe and placing economic “burdens” on the population.
Rajapakse desperately attempted to exploit the genuine anger of workers and youth against the previous government’s ruthless implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s austerity demands. He claimed that Sirisena “invited me to take over the government” in order to overcome the catastrophic situation created by the former administration.
Rajapakse’s speech, which included a vague reference to the Western powers backing Wickremesinghe, became the occasion for bitter disruptions when the UNP leader Lakshman Kiriella proposed a vote on the statement. The Rajapakse faction vehemently protested and denounced the speaker,…