Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan opposition wants no-confidence vote on Rajapaksas

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s main opposition party has issued a declaration of no confidence aimed at ousting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet, blaming them for failing to fulfill their constitutional duty to provide a decent standard of living amid the the island’s worst economic crisis in history.
A group of the United People’s Force party, led by leader Sajith Premadasa, tabled the motion Tuesday asking parliament speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to pass the parliamentary vote of no confidence.
The move came amid nationwide protests demanding the resignation of Rajapaksa and his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who hold protesters responsible for the economic crisis.
A majority of votes in the 225-member parliament would be needed to remove Rajapaksa and the cabinet from power. The United People’s Force can only count on 54 votes, but hopes to win votes from smaller opposition parties and defectors from the ruling Sri Lanka People’s Front party. The ruling party had nearly 150 votes, but that power has waned amid the economic crisis and a vote of no confidence is possible.
A decision on when to hold the no-confidence vote is expected to take place after MPs begin meeting on Wednesday.
The United People’s Force has also tabled a no-confidence vote against the president, but it would not force him to leave office even if a majority of lawmakers vote against him.
Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy after the country’s recent announcement to suspend payments on its foreign loans. The country must repay $7 billion in foreign loans this year, of the $25 billion it must pay by 2026. Sri Lanka has less than $1 billion in foreign reserves.
The currency crisis has curtailed imports and caused severe shortages of essential goods such as fuel, cooking gas, medicines and food. People stand in long lines for hours to buy what they can and many return home with little or nothing of what they were looking for.
The United People’s Force motion also accuses top officials of printing money excessively, harming agricultural production by banning chemical fertilizers to make production completely organic, failing to order COVID-19 vaccines on time and buy them later. at higher prices.
Protesters stormed the entrance to the president’s office on Tuesday, the 25th day of their occupation, demanding the resignation of Rajapaksa relatives who have ruled Sri Lanka for the past two decades.

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