COLOMBO: Sri Lankan Parliament will debate a no-confidence motion against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on May 17, the Speaker's Office confirmed on Thursday, amid the ongoing political turmoil triggered by the worst economic crisis plaguing the debt-ridden country.
The decision was taken during the party leaders' meeting on Thursday. The motion would be taken up for debate after obtaining special approval from Parliament, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
Speaking at a press conference after the party leaders met at the Parliament complex, Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that the proposal submitted by the leaders will be prepared and handed over to the president The proposals, including the formation of a stable government and the security of the members of parliament, will be handed over to President Rajapaksa.
Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran emphasised that a stable government was necessary for the country to move forward.
Sumanthiran noted that while a stipulated time duration has not been given for the resignation of the president, action must be taken soon with regard to the appointment of the prime minister, News First website reported.
Parliamentarian Mano Ganeshan added that no one should suddenly intervene and take up the position of the prime minister, and the president must respect the repeated calls for his resignation by the people, the report said.
Sri Lanka's main Opposition party SJB on Friday announced that it will move a no-confidence motion against the government of President Rajapaksa and is prepared to impeach the embattled leader if he fails to address the concerns of the public facing hardships due to the worst economic crisis.
As protests continued across the country, demanding the resignation of the President and the entire Rajapaksa family from the government, Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa also called for the Executive Presidency to be abolished, saying power should be divided between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.
“The government must pay heed to the public demand for the Rajapaksas to quit, if not we will bring a no-confidence motion,'' the leader of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) told Parliament.
Premadasa said that he cannot agree to an interim government with Rajapaksa remaining as the president. The SJB said that it was also prepared to impeach the president. He also submitted a set of proposals to Parliament on behalf of the SJB to address the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948. Clashes broke out on Monday after government's supporters attacked peaceful anti-government protest sites in Colombo and elsewhere, killing at least 8 people and leaving over 200 others injured in the violence.
Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis has provoked widespread protests calling for political reform and the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. On April 1, President Rajapaksa imposed a state of emergency, lifting it five days later. The government reimposed a state of emergency on May 6 after police fired teargas and arrested students protesting near parliament, which was adjourned until May 17.
Although the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, the police fatally shot a protester on April 19, and on several occasions have used teargas and water cannons against protesters. The authorities have made numerous arrests and repeatedly imposed curfews.
The political crisis was triggered in late March when people hurt by long hours of power cuts and essential shortages took to the streets demanding the resignation of the government.
President Rajapaksa sacked his cabinet and appointed a younger cabinet as a response to the demand for resignation. A continuous protest opposite his secretariat has now gone on for well over a month.
Last Monday, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the prime minister to make way for the president to appoint an interim all political party government.
Sri Lankan authorities on Wednesday deployed troops and military vehicles in the streets to ensure public security in the Capital amidst nationwide protests over the government's failure to tackle the worst economic crisis.
The deployment came a day after the country's Ministry of Defence ordered the Army, the Air Force and the Navy personnel to open fire on anyone looting public property or causing harm to others amidst violent protests in the island nation over the unprecedented economic crisis.