Sri Lanka president suspends parliament after sacking PM as political rift deepens

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Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday suspended parliament till Nov. 16, a day after removing Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and replacing him with former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in a surprise move that signals escalating political tensions in the South Asian nation.

“The president has prorogued the parliament,” cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne told reporters.

Minutes earlier Wickremesinghe, who says he remains prime minister, urged the speaker to convene parliament to prove he retained his parliamentary majority.

“I have the majority in the parliament, convene the parliament to resolve this,” Wickremesinghe told a press conference in Colombo on Saturday, flanked by all his coalition partners except Sirisena’s party.

“Only parliament can show who has the majority,” he said.

The parliament suspension means Wickremesinghe will not immediately have an opportunity to prove his majority, amid speculation that some of his party members would cross over to back Rajapaksa for perks and ministerial portfolios.

The island nation’s Media and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Friday condemned Rajapaksa’s appointment as “an anti-democratic coup” and violation of the constitution.

A delegation of the European Union said on Saturday that it was closely following the events in Sri Lanka.

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