Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s party United People’s Freedom Alliance on Friday admitted that it does not have the numbers to enable newly-appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to win a confidence vote in Parliament.
Party spokesperson Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters that Rajapaksa needs at least eight more votes in the 225-member assembly to reach the majority mark of 113, AFP reported. “At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs,” Rambukwella said. He claimed that the party will need “crossover” legislators so Rajapaksa’s dispensation can reach the majority mark.
On October 26, Sirisena appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa the prime minister after sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe. The next day, Sirisena suspended Parliament till November 16. On November 2, the president lifted the suspension of Parliament. Later, he announced that Parliament will reconvene on November 14.
The spokesperson’s remarks on Friday contradict Sirisena’s assertion on November 5 that the party has the required number of MPs to win a confidence vote. “Do not doubt the 113 MPs. We have completed getting 113 MPs,” he had said.
Wickremesinghe, in a Facebook video on Thursday, urged his supporters not to give up. “In extraordinary numbers and with extraordinary courage, you came out on to the streets, you spoke out,” he said. “You have not let this country be plunged into the darkness of dictatorship.”
Meanwhile, the European Union, in a joint statement with Norway and Switzerland, said Parliament should vote “immediately when reconvened”. “Any further delay could damage Sri Lanka’s international reputation and deter investors,” it added.