Sri Lankan speaker defies president to call parliament

person access_timeNovember 2 chat_bubble_outline0

COLOMBO – Sri Lanka's speaker on Friday defied the president's order to suspend parliament and called a meeting of lawmakers next week to discuss a worsening constitutional crisis. 


"The speaker met a majority of MPs at a committee room and promised he will open parliament on November 7," Karu Jayasuriya's spokesman told AFP. 


President Maithripala Sirisena's party has said the 225-member assembly must remain shut until November 16 amid turmoil over his sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister. 


Sirisena wants former strongman leader Mahinda Rajapakse to run the government but Wickremesinghe has refused to accept his dismissal and demanded a meeting of parliament to prove he has majority backing. 


Jayasuriya told more than 118 MPs, a majority of the House, that he could not ignore their demands to call parliament in a bid to end the impasse. 


"I have seen your petition to disregard the president's actions. I have been getting numerous appeals from diplomats and civil society groups to intervene and end this crisis," Jayasuriya said. 


Wickremesinghe's United National Party says that the president wants to shut down parliament for as long as possible to give himself more time to engineer defections in support of Rajapakse. 


"It is clear that Rajapakse does not have the numbers in parliament to justify getting the prime minister post," UNP spokesman Harsha de Silva said. "They are now trying to wriggle out of this crisis." 
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