Asia-Pacific

Sri Lanka political showdown looms

Sri Lanka's parliament has passed a no-confidence vote against the government headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sri Lanka's parliament has passed a no-confidence vote against the government headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa, a former strongman hastily sworn in as prime minister last month.

The motion brought on Wednesday morning by the leader of an opposition party could mean that Rajapaksa will have to resign his post.

"Democracy has prevailed by passing of the no confidence motion," Sajith Premadasa, a member of parliament for the opposition United National Party (UNP) said.

Dinesh Gunawardena, a minister of Rajapaksa's government, claimed the speaker was acting against common parliamentary practice and therefore the passing of the no-confidence motion was "illegal."

Parliament convened for the first time since October 27, when President Maithripala Sirisena suspended the legislature after firing the sitting prime minister Ranil Wickremesingh and cabinet in a power struggle and plunging the nation into a crisis.

Wickremesinghe's party is calling on Rajapaksa and his newly appointed cabinet to step down.

Wickremesinghe insists his party has the support of more than the required majority of 113 members in the 225-seat parliament.

Sirisena initially claimed his party could prove the new PM Rajapaksa had the support of more than 113 members, but party members later conceded they do not have the numbers.

Sirisena was elected as president in 2015 largely due to the support of the UNP and went on to form a coalition government with Wickremesinghe.

But Sirisena later fell out with Wickremesinghe, claiming his party was corrupt, was selling state ventures to foreign companies and even plotting to assassinate him.

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