Chaos in Lankan House as Speaker comes under siege
Colombo: Sri Lankan lawmakers on Thursday exchanged blows and threw objects at each other, leaving at least one of them bleeding, as MPs loyal to President Maithripala Sirisena surrounded the Speaker in his chair after Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who lost a floor test, demanded fresh elections to resolve the raging political turmoil.
Trouble erupted when Speaker Karu Jayasuriya agreed to a request from ousted premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) that a vote be taken on a statement made by Rajapaksa demanding fresh polls. Jayasuriya had allowed Rajapaksa to make a statement as an MP after stating that he does not recognise the claim of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader who lost a no-confidence motion on Wednesday.
“I was the president and premier, so this PM’s post is not important,” Rajapaksa said. “I urge all 225 members to join me in calling for a fresh election. We want a general election,” he said.
UNP legislator Lakshman Kiriella urged Jayasuriya to take a vote by name, showing the loss of confidence over Rajapaksa’s remarks. Jayasuriya asked the House if it agreed and with resounding voices of ‘Aye’ he proceeded to take the vote.
He was immediately surrounded by MPs who were protesting against Jayasuriya’s decision. MPs Prasanna Ranaweera and Navin Dissanayake were reported to be among those who engaged in fisticuffs.