Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Sri Lanka in political chaos as MPs swing punches to each other

Dozens of MPs fought and some who fell on the floor were kicked by rivals amid governmental vacuum in the country.

    Sri Lanka’s parliament descended into chaos with MPs swinging punches and throwing projectiles a day after legislators voted the prime minister out of office.

    Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya said the country had no government as parliament re-convened on Thursday, a day after the no-confidence vote against newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The motion passed with the backing of 122 MPs in the 225-member legislature.

    Jayasuriya said there was no prime minister, neither Rajapaksa nor his rival whose ousting in late October started the crisis.

    Dozens of MPs fought and some who fell on the floor were kicked by rivals.

    Some of Rajapaksa’s supporters threw water bottles and rubbish bins in the parliament. The Speaker then adjourned the proceedings.

    Rajapaksa said the no-confidence vote should not have been a voice vote, calling for fresh elections.

    President Maithripala Sirisena in a letter to the Speaker said he cannot accept the no-confidence vote as the Speaker appeared to have ignored the constitution, parliamentary procedure and traditions.

    Sirisena, who triggered the crisis by firing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and naming Rajapaksa, a controversial former president, to the job late last month, dissolved parliament last week and ordered elections as a way to break the deadlock.

    Supreme Court overturns decree

    However, the Supreme Court overturned that decree on Tuesday until it had heard petitions challenging the move as unconstitutional.

    “It is difficult to say who is in charge in Sri Lanka. Now we are left with a power vacuum,” Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Colombo, told Al Jazeera.

    The United States, European Union and other members of the international community have raised concerns over the crisis.

    Only China has recognised the appointment of Rajapaksa, who during his decade as president until 2015 relied heavily on Beijing for diplomatic and financial support.

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