Speaker announces that the island nation ‘now had no government’.
Colombo: Sri Lanka’s political crisis descended into farce Thursday with MPs throwing punches and projectiles in Parliament, a day after voting the disputed Prime Minister out of office and leaving the country without a government.
Meanwhile, police said tens of thousands of people took part in a rally in Colombo in support of Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose sacking as Prime Minister plunged the Indian Ocean nation into turmoil almost three weeks ago. “It was difficult to make out immediately who was hitting whom, but several were hurt, but not seriously,” an official in Parliament told AFP. “The Speaker adjourned the House till tomorrow (Friday).”
The official said an MP from toppled premier Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party injured himself trying to rip out the speaker’s microphone and had to be taken to hospital with a bleeding hand.
On October 26, President Maithripala Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and replaced him with Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s divisive and seasoned political bruiser.
Two weeks later, Sirisena dissolved the strategically important Indian Ocean nation’s Parliament and called snap elections for January.
However, these moves were suspended by the Supreme Court on on Tuesday pending an investigation. Day-to-day administration in Sri Lanka remains paralysed as the crisis drags on.
Parliament reconvened on Wednesday and legislators approved a motion of no-confidence in what they called Rajapakse’s “purported” Cabinet, also passing motions declaring Sirisena’s moves illegal.
Thursday’s routine Parliament session, the first since Mr Rajapakse and his disputed administration were deposed, began with the Speaker announcing that the country now had no government.
“As of now, there is no Prime Minister, no Cabinet ministers and no government in Sri Lanka,” said Karu Jayasuriya, wearing his black and gold robe. “I do not recognise anyone as Prime Minister.”
The vote ousting Mr Rajapakse and the Supreme Court’s rulings were a major boost to Mr Wickremesinghe.
The four-time Prime Minister, popular with Western countries for his economic reforms, had refused to leave his official residence after being fired by the President.
Mr Wickremesinghe’s party was also staging a mass rally in the capital later on Thursday to demonstrate his public support. Hundreds of supporters were being bussed into Colombo for the rally, party officials said.
Addressing parliament on Thursday as an ordinary member, Mr Rajapakse asked the house to end the crisis by holding a national election.
“Let’s go for an election. We want an election, a general election,” Mr Rajapakse said.
But Mr Wickremesinghe’s party immediately moved a resolution rejecting Mr Rajapakse’s call and demanded a vote that triggered angry protests from legislators loyal to Mr Rajapakse and Mr Sirisena.