Sri Lanka opposes vote of no confidence against government

Opposition lawmaker Harsha de Silva told CNBC on Monday.

“We are confident that we have the numbers and we will put forward the petition at the appropriate time,” said de Silva, a member of parliament from the opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party.

His comments come before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appoints a new cabinet on Monday. After pressure from protesters calling for his resignation, the president removed his two brothers and a grandson from the new team, but kept another brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, who is serving as prime minister.

Widespread protests with chants of “Gotta go Gotabaya” against the president and prime minister dragged on last month as Sri Lankans grapple with 12-hour power cuts and shortages of food, medicine and fuel.

De Silva told CNBC in an interview on “Capital Connection Asia,” we’ll bring it up when the time is right because it’s an act of lack of confidence on our part and it’s our prerogative as we bring it. He declined to specify whether a vote of no confidence against the prime minister would come on Tuesday, when parliament convenes.

Sri Lanka is facing The worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. The island nation of 22 million people announced last Tuesday that it would default on $35 billion in debt for the first time in its history.

It will send a delegation, including its finance minister, to a meeting with the International Monetary Fund this week to seek a bailout.

Angry protesters carried flags and chanted slogans during anti-government rallies near the president’s office in Colombo earlier this month. They are demanding that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa step down because of the country’s crippling economic crisis.

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The opposition has also demanded that the president repeal a two-year constitutional amendment that gave his office extraordinary powers, de Silva said.

Under the 20th amendment, the president cannot be removed from office – he can only resign or be impeached. It came after Rajapaksa took office, a move that observers say has eroded Sri Lanka’s democratic ethos.

The 20th Amendment withdrew most of the 19th amendment reforms, imposed certain limits on the president’s authority and removed his general immunity from legal proceedings. .

De Silva said the offer to rescind the 20th Amendment could be a form of compromise to resolve the weeks-long political deadlock.

“A compromise move at this point for the president is to say he’s willing to repeal the 20th Amendment and go back to the much more democratic 19th Amendment,” de Silva said.

The opposition MP said there were few viable political options left.

“Impeachment is a lengthy process. It needs a two-thirds majority and the Supreme Court has to agree. It will take time,” de Silva said, noting that the president has the power to remove the prime minister. and Mr. chamber.

De Silva said it is still unclear whether some dissidents in the ruling party will vote with the opposition on a motion of no confidence.

He said 42 MPs expressed their willingness to take the seat of the opposition. “If they do, the government will immediately lose its majority,” he added.

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