Colombo, Nov 1 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s suspended Parliament will not be convened before November 16, President Maithripala Sirisena’s party said on Thursday, hours after officials at Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office indicated that the House will meet on Monday.
Susil Premjayantha, a senior parliamentarian from Sirisena’s United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), said Parliament is unlikely to meet on November 5.
He said that Parliament needs time to prepare to meet and there is not enough time to meet on Monday.
Premjayantha said reports claiming Parliament will meet on Monday were misleading and the House was most likely to meet on November 16, as announced by the president earlier.
Sirisena had suspended Parliament till November 16 after Wickremesinghe sought an emergency session to prove his majority.
The president is facing increasing political and diplomatic pressure to reconvene Parliament which he had suspended apparently to allow Rajapaksa to engineer crossovers from Wickremesinghe’s side.
Earlier in the day, officials at Rajapaksa’s office said that the President has agreed to call a parliamentary session on November 5.
Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe’s United National Party (UNP) had the backing of 106 parliamentarians while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.
Rajapaksa has so far managed to rope in five lawmakers from Wickramasinghe’s party to bolster his strength to 101. One UNP lawmaker has offered his support to him.
It was, however, not immediately known if Rajapaksa has managed to secure 113 votes required to prove the majority.
Wickremesinghe, who has refused to accept his dismissal claiming to be the country’s legitimate premier, had earlier welcomed the announcement about summoning of Parliament on Monday, saying the democracy will prevail.
“The people’s voices have been heard. Parliament will be reconvened on the 5th of November. Democracy will prevail,” he had tweeted.
Talking to the BBC from his official residence Temple Trees, Wickremesinghe said: “I still remain the prime minister and I have the confidence of the majority of members of this house.
“The Constitution states that the president must appoint as prime minister the person who commands the confidence of Parliament and I am the person who has that. We have asked for the summoning of Parliament so I can prove my majority in the house,” he said.
Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa in a dramatic turn of events last Friday and suspended Parliament after the sacked premier sought an emergency session to prove his majority.
Meanwhile, Sirisena sworn in three more Cabinet ministers, four state ministers and a deputy minister, this evening.
Wickremesinghe maintains he still commands the majority and remains the legally appointed prime minister.
The ousted premier has already suffered five defections to Rajapaksa.
Sirisena swore in the new Cabinet under Rajapaksa on Monday despite a warning from the parliament speaker of possible violence if lawmakers were not summoned immediately to resolve the crisis.
Wickramasinghe argues that he cannot legally be removed until he loses the support of Parliament and called for a floor test to prove his majority.
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has 16 seats in the house and the People’s Liberation Front (JVP) has six legislators.
On Tuesday, angry protests rocked Sri Lanka’s capital as thousands of demonstrators gathered for a rally organised by Wickremesinghe’s party against what it said was a “coup” by President Sirisena.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.