UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, voicing concern over the ongoing political crisis in Sri Lanka, urged President Maithripala Sirisena to revert to parliamentary procedures and allow Parliament to vote “as soon as possible”.
Island nation Sri Lanka plunged into a political crisis after President Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and brought in former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place in a dramatic turn of events last week.
Mr. Guterres spoke to Sirisena over the phone on November 1 and informed him that he was following the latest developments in the country with concern, his office said. UN Chief “offered assistance in facilitating a dialogue with all the parties to resolve the situation,” his office added.
He highlighted the Sri Lankan government’s responsibility to ensure peace, security, and respect for the rule of law. “The Secretary-General urged the President to revert to parliamentary procedures and allow Parliament to vote as soon as possible” readout said.
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Amid the ongoing political tension, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer met Sirisena and Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, delivering Guterres’ message for the need to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions.
Since day one, Wickremesinghe has refused to accept his dismissal, claiming to be the country’s legitimate premier. He argues that he cannot legally be removed until he loses the support of Parliament.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.
A lawmaker from the main Tamil party defected to the Rajapaksa side and was made a minister on Friday. Rajapaksa claims he now has enough numbers to prove his majority and at least five of Wickremasinghe’s men have defected to his side.