Sri Lankan opposition calls for no-confidence vote against Rajapaksas

Professor Kumari Jayawardena, a leading Sri Lankan scholar and feminist activist, holds a sign demanding political and economic stability in the country near the site of ongoing protests as the sea rehabilitation project funded by the China is seen in the background in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, May 2, 2022. Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and announced it was suspending payments on its foreign <a class=loans until it negotiates a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)” title=”Professor Kumari Jayawardena, a leading Sri Lankan scholar and feminist activist, holds a sign demanding political and economic stability in the country near the site of ongoing protests as the sea rehabilitation project funded by the China is seen in the background in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, May 2, 2022. Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and announced it was suspending payments on its foreign loans until it negotiates a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)” loading=”lazy”/>

Professor Kumari Jayawardena, a leading Sri Lankan scholar and feminist activist, holds a sign demanding political and economic stability in the country near the site of ongoing protests as the sea rehabilitation project funded by the China is seen in the background in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, May 2, 2022. Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and announced it was suspending payments on its foreign loans until it negotiates a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

PA

Sri Lanka’s main opposition party on Tuesday issued a no-confidence statement seeking to oust Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet and accuse them of failing in their constitutional duty to provide a decent standard of living amid the the island’s worst economic crisis.

A United People’s Force party group, led by leader Sajith Premadasa, put forward the motion calling for the parliamentary vote without confidence in Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

The move came amid nationwide protests demanding the resignation of Rajapaksa and his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whom protesters hold responsible for the economic crisis.

A majority vote in the 225-member parliament would be needed to remove Rajapaksa and the Cabinet from power. The United People’s Force can only count on 54 votes but hopes to win the votes of the small opposition parties and the defections of the ruling party, the People’s Front of Sri Lanka. The ruling party had nearly 150 votes, but that strength has dwindled amid the economic crisis and defections in a vote of no confidence are possible.

A decision on when to hold the vote of no confidence is expected to take place after the start of the MPs’ meeting on Wednesday.

The United People’s Force also introduced a no-confidence motion targeting the president, but that would not force him out of office even if a majority of lawmakers voted against him.

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy after the country recently announced to suspend payments on its foreign loans. The country faces repayment this year of $7 billion in foreign loans out of the $25 billion it must pay by 2026. Sri Lanka has less than $1 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

The currency crisis has limited imports and caused severe shortages of essential goods such as fuel, cooking gas, medicine and food. People line up for hours to buy what they can and many go home with little or nothing of what they were looking for.

The United People’s Force motion also accuses senior government officials of excessively printing money, harming agricultural production by banning chemical fertilizers to make production entirely organic, failing to order COVID-19 vaccines. 19 in time and buy them later at higher prices.

Protesters marked their 25th day of occupying the entrance to the president’s office on Tuesday, demanding the resignation of members of the Rajapaksa family who have ruled Sri Lanka for two decades.

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