Sri Lanka’s main Opposition party on Tuesday submitted a no-confidence declaration to the Parliamentary Speaker to oust Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Cabinet amid the country’s worst financial crisis in decades, PTI reported.
The United People’s Power, or Samagi Jana Balawegaya, General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said that the members met Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena at his home and submitted two no-trust motions – one against the Rajapaksa government and another against his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
However, the motion against the president cannot force him to resign even if a majority of legislators vote against him. Under Article 38 of the Constitution, a president can be removed only if he is willing to resign or through the process of impeachment.
If a vote of no-confidence is adopted against the government, then the president can appoint a new prime minister.
On Tuesday, Bandara said that his party wants the motion to be taken up quickly. Members of Parliament start meeting on Wednesday and a decision on when to hold the no-confidence vote is expected to be taken after that. Any motion needs a notice to be served seven days before a debate can be held.
The ruling Sri Lanka People’s Front party has said it holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament, despite over two dozen legislators leaving the ruling coalition because of the economic meltdown. The United People’s Power has 54 MPs in Parliament but hopes to secure votes from smaller Opposition parties and defections from the Sri Lanka People’s Front coalition.
On Tuesday, the prime minister had proposed to amend the Constitution to create an accountable administration as public unrest surged over the ruling family’s handling of the debt-heavy economy, PTI reported.
Sri Lanka currently has about $7 billion, or over Rs 53,470 crore, in total debt due this year. The island nation is struggling to pay for imports of fuel and other goods due to a scarcity of foreign exchange, leading to hours-long power cuts and a shortage of essential items.
Protestors have been demanding the resignations of Rajapaksa family members since April 9.