Sri Lanka parliament speaker refuses to accept Rajapaksa as PM

Sri Lanka parliament speaker refuses to accept Rajapaksa as PM

"Countries are sensitive, they have concerns (about a government led by Rajapaksa) democratic countries have concerns", he said in the interview conducted in the prime minister's official residence in a colonial-era bungalow where Wickremesinghe is camping along with his supporters.

Sirisena's unexpected firing of Wickremesinghe, who served as prime minister in a unity government with Sirisena, has plunged the South Asian island nation into a constitutional crisis.

Thousands of supporters of Rajapaksa headed for the capital on Monday to rally in support of his nomination as the prime minister.

As patriotic songs blared over loudspeakers, thousands shuffled through heavy rain towards a makeshift stage.

President Sirisena was addressing the "Rata Rakina Jana Mahimaya" vibrant people's protest rally at the Parliament Junction last evening. Mr. Sirisena told the crowd that the change he initiated was more than a personnel shift.

He said this appointment is not just the changing of two persons or two bodies to that chair, but also the removing of the vision that followed foreign agendas and was harmful to the state.

Sirisena was supported by Wickremesinghe three years ago but the two men have gradually drifted apart, leading to Wickremesinghe's shock sacking last month. "Local thoughts were rejected and an extreme neo-liberal form of governance was carried out".

India and Western countries also worry about his close ties to China, which loaned Sri Lanka billions of dollars for infrastructure projects during his rule, putting the country deep into debt.

The political developments had no negative impact on tourism, new Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama said at the press conference.

Seven members of Wickremesinghe's United National Front have defected to Rajapaksa's government.

The Tamil party's 15 votes could give Wickremesinghe's camp a decisive edge over Rajapaksa. "I trust you and you can always trust me", Rajapaksa said.

Rajapaksa is seen as a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict.

Since the war with the LTTE ended in 2009, the Sri Lankan government has denied that the imprisoned LTTE members are political prisoners.

During these 10 years, Rajapaksa and his government were accused of authoritarianism, corruption and human rights abuses, especially against the country's Tamil minority. "They might pay; they might not".

The speaker said Sirisena had gone back on previous commitments to recall parliament on November 7.

The unity government was formed in 2015 when Sirisena was elected President with Wickremesinghe's support, ending a almost decade-long rule by Rajapaksa.

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