Crazy scenes were witnessed in Sri Lankan Parliament, when lawmakers, dressed in neat and clean white, engaged in an all out brawl that lasted for atleast half an hour. The mayhem broke out when the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that speaker Jayasuriya had no right of removing him from the office by conducting a voice vote. The Prime Minister had lost in a no-confidence motion, the previous day.
The opposition then asked for a vote on his statement. And the mayhem began. One MP started the proceedings by throwing a dustbin at Speaker Karu Jayasuriya.
The crisis was started when President Sirisena fired erstwhile PM Wickremesinghe on October 26 and named Rajapaksa — who was Sri Lanka’s president from 2005 to 2015 — as his successor. Wickramasinghe disputes the president’s authority to fire him and has refused to leave the prime ministerial residence.
On Wednesday, lawmakers rejected Rajapaksa in a no-confidence vote — a move he criticized on Thursday in parliament.
Rival MPs threw punches, water bottles, chilli power and trash cans at each other. Even in the last couple of weeks, Thursday’s punch-up was a particularly low point. “The speaker was under complete siege; he came very close to being physically assaulted by MPs supporting Rajapaksa,” said Chandani Kirinde, a correspendent for a Sri Lankan newspaper.
— Azzam Ameen (@AzzamAmeen) November 15, 2018
— RT (@RT_com) November 16, 2018
A brawl broke out in Sri Lanka’s parliament as some members protested the passage of a no-confidence motion against the newly appointed Prime Minister, with the South Asian country mired in political gridlock and now facing a constitutional crisis. https://t.co/zldA9zp0jB pic.twitter.com/DgPXhKkDod
— ABC News (@ABC) November 17, 2018
“While clashes have happened in the house, this is probably the first time the speaker came under so much intimidation and abuse,” Kirinde said.
Meanwhile, In a tweet, Sirisena vowed not to dissolve Parliament and called upon “all parties to uphold principles of democracy and parliamentary traditions at all times.”
Sirisena dissolved Parliament a week ago and ordered new elections, but the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended Sirisena’s directive.