Brawl in Sri Lankan Parliament, US Weighs in on Crisis

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Washington, DC – The United States on Thursday (Nov.15) warned the political players in Sri Lanka as it slipped further into a political quagmire with fighting breaking out among lawmakers in the Sri Lankan parliament. Reports of punches being thrown with verbal clashing and physical shoving as lawmakers from rival parties decided to express their views on the floor of the house. One lawmaker had to be taken to the hospital, the local media reported.

In a reply to IAT question, a US State Department spokesperson said, “We are closely following political developments in Sri Lanka.”

“We continue to call for all parties to follow the rule of law, good governance, and democratic principles to avoid further deepening the political crisis,” the spokesperson noted in an email, cautioning, “There is much at stake and a prolonged crisis will jeopardize Sri Lanka’s democracy, economic progress, and international reputation.”

President Maithripala Sirisena had sacked premier Ranil Wickremesinghe and controversial Sri Lankan strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the new prime minister. The parliament’s speaker, Karu Jayasuriya said Sri Lanka now had no functioning government as Rajapaksa on Wednesday (Nov. 14) lost a no-confidence motion in parliament.

President Sirisena, however rejected the no-confidence motion brought against his nominee for prime minister, saying proper parliamentary procedures had not been followed. Rajapaksa in the meantime, has challenged Wickremesinghe to a general election to let the people decide the next government of the island nation.

Earlier the US had advised that the Sri Lankan parliament should decide who is the legitimate prime minister of the country and repeatedly called on the Sri Lankan president to consult the speaker and reconvene the parliament immediately. Instead, President Sirisena shocked the nation by sacking parliament and calling snap elections. Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court had also suspended the president’s move to dissolve parliament, as the political crisis deepened.

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