The Sri Lankan opposition calls for a no-confidence vote on Rajapaksas

On Tuesday, Sri Lanka’s main opposition party issued a no-confidence statement aimed at ousting Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet and accusing them of failing in their constitutional duty to provide a decent standard of living in the midst of worst economic crisis in the island nation in memory.

A group of the United People’s Force party, led by leader Sajith Premadasa, presented the motion asking for a parliamentary vote of no confidence from the Speaker of the Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

The move came amid protests across the country calling for the resignations of Rajapaksa and his younger brother, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whom protesters hold responsible for the economic crisis.

A majority vote in the 225-member parliament would be needed to remove Rajapaksa and the cabinet from power. The United People’s Force has only 54 votes, but it hopes to win votes from smaller opposition parties and defections from the ruling Sri Lankan Popular Front party. The ruling party had nearly 150 votes, but that strength waned during the economic crisis and defections in a vote of no confidence are possible.

A decision on when to hold the no-confidence vote is expected to come after Members of Parliament begin their meeting on Wednesday.

The United People’s Force has also filed a no-confidence motion against the president, but it would not force him to leave office even the majority of lawmakers vote against him.

Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy following the country’s recent announcement to suspend payments on its foreign loans. The country faces repayment of $ 7 billion in foreign loans this year of the $ 25 billion it is expected to pay by 2026. Sri Lanka has less than $ 1 billion in foreign reserves.

The foreign exchange crisis has limited imports and caused severe shortages of essential goods such as fuel, cooking gas, medicine and food. People stand in long lines for hours to buy what they can, and many return home with little, if any, of what they were looking for.

The United People’s Force motion also accuses senior government officials of overprinting money, damaging agricultural production by banning chemical fertilizers to make production completely organic, not ordering COVID-19 vaccines in a timely manner and later buying them at prices. higher.

Protesters on Tuesday were on their 25th day since their occupation of the entrance to the president’s office, demanding the resignation of members of the Rajapaksa family who have ruled Sri Lanka for the past two decades.

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