COLOMBO: Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament, has refused to accept Mahinda Rajapaksa as the country’s new prime minister until he proves his majority in the 225-member Parliament.
"At a time it has been brought to my attention by the majority that the lawful summoning of Parliament has been prevented and the rights of the Members of Parliament have been usurped, in the name of justice and fair play, I have to make my stance known to the world," Jayasuriya said in a widely circulated statement on November 5.
In a sudden development late on October 26, President Maithripala Sirisena sacked incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and appointed former President Rajapaksa in his place, throwing the country into a constitutional crisis with two rival prime ministers.
"The majority of the members are of the view that the changes done in the parliament are unconstitutional and against the traditions," Jayasuriya, previously from Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), said in the statement.
"Therefore, I am requested by the majority of the parliament to accept the position which was prior to these changes. Until the new group shows the majority, I will have to accept the status quo prior to the changes."
However, while the President is postponing the convening of Parliament, at least eight legislators from the UNP have crossed sides to the Sirisena and Rajapaksa-led United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which was backed by 96 legislators prior to the crisis.
Nearly all the parliamentarians who left the UNP have been given ministerial posts in the new cabinet.
According to legal and constitutional experts, while the president has the authority to appoint the prime minister, he does not have the power to sack the incumbent after constitutional amendments passed three years ago.