Sri Lanka: President Sirisena was in Parliament during the brawl

Realising he had been defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa, installed Prime Minister, turned and walked out of the chamber

( November 16, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) “At 2.20PM in Colombo time when the side doors to the Chamber opened, about 30 police officials entered in a human chain, forming a barricade around the Sergeant at Arms who held tight to the Mace, the symbol of an official session of Parliament,” noted journalist Dharisha Bastians who was in the Parliament during the brawl has noted.

“The Speaker walked in behind the Mace. Joint Opposition MPs pelted the police officers with chairs, thick bound books and threw water mixed with chillie powder at the wall of police officers who were unmoved and never retaliated. Johnston Fernando led the charge.

Amidst the chaos, with parliament security holding cushions over his head to prevent attacks from projectiles, Speaker conducted a sitting from a makeshift bench on the aisle of the chamber. His microphone worked and the Hansard recorded all of it.

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Standing orders were suspended by majority vote. The No Confidence Motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa passed on Wednesday tabled again with first clause deleted as President Sirisena suggested in the meeting with Political party leaders last night. The Speaker called for order so he could take a vote by name. Since Joint Opposition MPs did not heed him, he took a voice vote.

"The Ayes have it" the motion was carried, Speaker declared shortly before he adjourned the session till the 19th of November. Through all this the JO continued to hurl things at MPs, the police and the Speaker.

Realising he had been defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa, installed Prime Minister, turned and walked out of the chamber as the packed gallery hooted at him. His MPs continued to roar with protest but the UNF/TNA/JVP had declared victory.

President Maithripala Sirisena was in Parliament, watching the action. These were some incredible scenes."

Meanwhile, issuing a lame statement Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the biased attitude of the Speaker was the prime cause for today's tense situation in Parliament.

“Mr. Rajapaksa also urged that a General Election be held as soon as possible to establish a stable government that respects the public.”

Meanwhile issuing a statement sitting Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said, "The events of this afternoon were not merely a disruption of the House, but an attempt to destroy parliamentary democracy. Thank you to the Speaker, the brave police officers and the MPs who stood firm against threats, intimidation and thuggery to protect the democratic process."

Issuing a message Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that " today, November 16 2018, will be remembered for two reasons. First is the historic victory for Democracy, Rule of Law and Constitutionalism. Second is the brutal exposition of the political barbarians of MR-Junta who will never again be able to fool the masses of this country to gain power".


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