Sri Lanka's ousted PM says US, Japan freeze aid over political crisis

Sri Lanka's ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gestures during an interview with Reuters at the Prime Minister's official residence in Colombo Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka's ousted PM says US, Japan freeze aid over political crisis

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday defended his decision to dismiss the Prime Minister of the unity government Ranil Wickremesinghe and appoint former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to lead a United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government as a decision taken in the best interest of the people.

"The majority of members are of the view that the changes ... are unconstitutional and against traditions", Speaker Jayasuriya said in a statement.

Jayasuriya said most members of parliament had called on him not to accept the changes. "Therefore I am compelled to accept the status quo prior to the changes until the new group shows the majority".

Namal's comments are aimed at persuading the legislators in the Sri Lanka's main Tamil party - Tamil National Alliance (TNA) - to switch their allegiance to Rajapaksa in his bid to prove majority in the parliament.

The reconvention of parliament by the president seems to suggest that Rajapaksa has the votes needed to be confirmed in the coming days.

The United States and the European Union have urged the president to immediately summon parliament and let deputies decide who is to lead the country.

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told a news conference Jayasuriya was not being impartial.

On Sunday, Sirisena said parliament would be recalled on November 14. "The public must protest the way the MPs are being brought for money", Abeywardena said.

Wickremesinghe who branded Sirisena's October 26 action to sack him a constitutional coup maintains that he holds majority.

According to latest counts, Wickremesinghe has 103 MPs from the 225-seat assembly while Rajapakse and Sirisena have 101.

Parliament road from Borella was a sea of heads as the crowds kept streaming into the Parliament Roundabout where the rally under the theme "Ratama Rakina Jana Mahimaya" presided over by the President and the Prime Minister was held.

GL Peiris, a leading Rajapaksa backer, however said the no confidence motion can not be taken up in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa supporters have planned a rally near the nation's parliament on Monday.

The political crisis in Sri Lanka began after Sirisena's broader front United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) announced that it has made a decision to quit the unity government with Wickremesinghe's UNP.

The deposed leader has demanded a vote to prove his majority. The President also requested former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to let the new government proceed with its business without any hindrance.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) party, which has seven lawmakers, said its members had also rejected offers to join the Sirisena-Rajapakse camp.

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