Sri Lankan strongman and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa remains short of the ‘magic number’ 113 required to prove his majority in parliament, his spokesman acknowledged Friday, days ahead of the floor test in the House.
Sri Lanka is facing a major constitutional crisis after President Maithripala Sirisena ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mr Rajapaksa and suspended parliament.
Without specifying the exact figure of the lawmakers supporting Mr Rajapaksa, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, “At the moment we have 105 to 106 MPs.”
Mr Rambukwella is one of the ministers appointed after the political crisis erupted on October 26. He is currently the incumbent media and information minister.
Mr Sirisena had earlier claimed at a public rally that he has the support of 113 parliamentarians in the 225-member House to prove the premiership of Mr Rajapaksa.
His comments came after Speaker Karu Jayasuriya slammed Mr Sirisena’s “unconstitutional and undemocratic” actions to sack Mr Wickremesinghe and suspend parliament, saying he will not recognise Mr Rajapaksa as the new premier unless he wins a floor test.
With eight United National Party (UNP) and one Tamil National Alliance (TNA) legislators defecting to the Rajapaksa camp, the former president was hopeful of passing the floor test.
Mr Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Mr Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Mr Rajapaksa.
However, owing to domestic and international pressure, Mr Sirisena later issued a notice to reconvene parliament on November 14.
The sudden constitutional crisis came amid growing tensions between Mr Sirisena and Mr Wickremesinghe on several policy matters with the President has been critical of the Prime Minister and his policies, especially on economy and security.
Meanwhile, Mr Wickremsinghe remains confident of proving his majority in parliament.
Mr Wickremesinghe, whose party dubbed Mr Sirisena’s move a “constitutional coup”, has refused to vacate his official residence, saying he is the lawful prime minister and that the president has no constitutional right to replace him.