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Sri Lanka’s parliament meets as protests put Rajapaksa under pressure

Sri Lanka's parliament meets as protests put Rajapaksa under pressure

April 6, 2022: -On Thursday, Sri Lanka’s parliament will meet after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is dissolving his cabinet and sought to form a unity government to find a way out of the island nation’s worst economic is cruising in decades to quell public anger.

The country of 22 million people suffers from a shortage of food and fuel and prolonged power cuts that lasts up to 13 hours, triggered by a lack of foreign exchange that has stalled imports.

Opposition parties and even Rajapaksa’s ruling alliance rejected the move for a unity government, which sets the stage for a test of strength in parliament.

“You could see the composition of parliament changing today,” said lawyer Luwie Niranjan Ganeshanathan, that specializes in constitutional issues.

In a wave of unprecedented spontaneous demonstrations across Sri Lanka, which include large gatherings in Colombo’s commercial capital, protesters have called Rajapaksa and his influential ruling family members to resign. His brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, is the prime minister.

“Many people are finding it difficult to get a square meal. You have to queue up to get gas and milk powder. Queues for everything,” said Upali Karunatilake, aged 54, a school van driver.

“Even small children say that Gotabaya must be removed,” Karunatilake said.

Sri Lanka’s ruling coalition won 145 out of 225 seats in the previous parliamentary election. Although, few of its 11 coalition partners that collectively hold 30 seats have indicated they will be sitting independently in parliament.

“If the government loses its majority, you could see the opposition, which brings in a vote of no confidence, but a parliamentary procedure goes around it first and is unlikely to happen,” Ganeshanathan said.

If a vote of no confidence is adopted, the president can appoint a new prime minister.

Or, if the government loses its majority, the opposition will relate table a resolution to dissolve parliament and call for snap elections, Ganeshanathan further said.

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Sri Lanka’s parliament meets as protests put Rajapaksa under pressure