• Saturday, Jun 25, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Rajapaksa, 44 ex-MPs defect from party led by president ahead of election

  • Published at 07:48 pm November 12th, 2018
Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, left, is sworn is as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena
Former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, left, is sworn is as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena AFP

Sirisena's move to sack the parliament has drawn international criticism

Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and 44 former lawmakers have defected from the party led by President Maithripala Sirisena, splitting with the president barely two weeks after he installed Rajapaksa in office.

Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night and called a general election for January 5 in a move that has drawn international criticism as it is likely to deepen the country's political crisis.

An intense power struggle has erupted in Sri Lanka in the past two weeks following Sirisena's sudden sacking of prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of former leader Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman, in his place.

Rajapaksa and 44 former lawmakers of the Sirisena-led centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Sunday joined Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna (SLPP), a political party formed in 2016 by Rajapaksa's younger brother Basil, a former economy minister.

An SLPP source said 65 out of 82 former SLFP MPs will eventually join the new party.

Namal Rajapaksa, an ex-lawmaker and son of Rajapaksa, said the SLFP's policies had not been pursued by Sirisena in the coalition government with the Wickremesinghe-led centre-right United National Party (UNP).

"We all decided that this is the right time to join the SLPP," he told Reuters.

The SLPP recorded a landslide victory in local polls in February after Rajapaksa backed it. He did that while remaining in the SLFP.

Sirisena's allies have told Reuters that he wants a SLFP-led government. However, the defections will weaken Sirisena's more than seven-decade old party, they say.

Rohana Piyadaya, the SLFP secretary general declined to comment on the defections.

Sirisena's move to sack the parliament has drawn international criticism.

Farhan Haq, the spokesman for United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, said in a statement that Guterres has underlined the utmost importance of respecting democratic processes and institutions and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law and due process.

"He renews his call on the Government to ensure peace and safety for all Sri Lankans and uphold its commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation," the spokesman said.

Sirisena previously defected from the SLFP, then led by Rajapaksa, in 2014 to join an opposition coalition that ousted Rajapaksa.

Later Sirisena rejoined the SLFP, took over its leadership and formed a national government with Wickremesinghe's party.

However, a rift developed over policy towards China and India - Wickremesinghe has favoured Indian investment as a counter to Chinese inroads in Sri Lankan infrastructure projects - and over Sirisena's intention to contest the 2020 presidential election under Wickremesinghe's party.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail