In a landmark vote, the Sri Lankan parliament on Wednesday passed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's government.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya ruled that a majority of the 225-member assembly supported a no-confidence motion against Mr. Rajapaksa who was made prime minister on October 26 in place of Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The motion was moved by United National Party (UNP) member Lakshman Kiriella.
Just before the vote was taken up, Mr. Rajapaksa walked out of the chamber, escorted by his son and MP Namal Rajapaksa, after which MPs backing him tried disrupting the vote.
The members loyal to Mr. Rajapaksa attempted to grab the mace, to disrupt the vote, but Mr. Jayasuriya went ahead.
“According to the voice, I recognise that the government has no majority,” Mr. Jayasuriya announced as Mr. Rajapaksa's backers protested.
Several ministers in Mr. Rajapaksa's cabinet came out of parliament accusing the speaker of violating parliamentary norms by holding the crucial vote against their wishes.
Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of Parliament and restrained the Election Commission from preparing for snap elections.
President Sirisena’s November 9 decision to dissolve Parliament came shortly after his party publicly admitted to lacking a majority in the House, heightening a political crisis that began on October 26. In a snap move, Mr. Sirisena fired his PM Wickremesinghe, installed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, and swiftly swore in a “new cabinet”, in the face of strong local and international criticism.
In exactly two weeks, Mr. Sirisena dissolved Parliament, preventing a vote on the House to test the rival camps’ claims to majority. Almost all political parties, except those aligned to the Sirisena-Rajapaksa front, petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday, challenging the “illegal” action. One independent election commissioner joined them.
(With inputs from Meera Srinivasan in Colombo)