Tens of thousands march to support new Lanka government

Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government

In the statement released on Monday in Sinhala, Jayasuriya said a majority of members in Parliament have submitted a petition to him stating that the changes made in Parliament recently by President Sirisena are unconstitutional.

"I will have to accept the status quo prior to the changes" until a majority in parliament accepted them, he said.

Wickremesinghe said in an interview with The Associated Press last week that there is credible evidence that Rajapaksa's party is attempting to buy support in Parliament.

However, Sri Lanka's Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Friday informed lawmakers that President Maithripala Sirisena was likely to convene Parliament on November 7.

Thousands of supporters of former Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse headed for the capital on Monday to rally in support of his controversial nomination as prime minister, as the island's constitutional crisis deepened.

He said he fired the prime minister because Wickremesinghe was trying to implement "a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people's sentiment".

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Sunday's announcement by Sirisena came as the country's main Tamil party urged him to end the worsening political crisis.

According to a gazette notification, issued by his Secretary Udaya R Seneviratne on Sunday evening, the assembly would be recalled on November 14. "The public must protest the way the MPs are being brought for money", UNP leader Vajira Abeywardena said, Wickremesinghe's supporters alleged that large sums of money had been offered to change sides.

Wickremesinghe who branded Sirisena's October 26 action to sack him a constitutional coup maintains that he holds majority. The prime minister can only be dismissed if the Cabinet of ministers is dismissed, the prime minister resigns or the prime minister ceases to be a member of parliament.

India and Western countries also worry about his close ties to China, which loaned Sri Lanka billions of dollars for infrastructure projects during his rule, putting the country deep into debt. He claims to hold a majority in the House but was unable to hold a confidence vote as Sirisena suspended the Parliament.

UNP supporters also condemned Sirisena's decision to recall parliament two days prior to the initial suspension order against Wickremesinghe, describing the move to be "eyewash to appease the ever-increasing worldwide and local pressure". The President also requested former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to let the new government proceed with its business without any hindrance.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister.

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