No trust against Sri Lanka PM a blessing: Minister

ECONOMYNEXT – A move to topple Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was a "blessing" and would allow for a purge within the coalition government, a senior minister said Friday.

Buddhist Affairs Minister Gamini Jayawickrema Perera said the no-confidence motion would help identify those who are working against Wickremesinghe from within the government and clear the way for their removal.

The Joint Opposition (JO) led by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa submitted the no-trust move which is to be taken up for debate on April 4.

The opposition must get 113 votes in the 225-member house to topple Wickremesinghe. With the current balance of power in parliament, the opposition does not enjoy the simple majority required for the ouster move.

Three junior ministers in the government representing President Maithripala Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) faction have also signed the no-trust resolution.

United National Party sources said they were asking President Sirisena to sack the three junior ministers — Susantha Punchinilame, T. B. Ekanayake and Nishantha Mutuhettigama. In the unlikely event of the no-confidence motion succeeding, the trio will also lose their positions as any toppling of the prime minister automatically leads to the collapse of the entire government of which they are members.

Another high profile trio, all full cabinet ministers,  who opposed Wickremesinghe were careful not to put their names to the no-confidence motion. Ministers Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara and S. B. Dissanayake have chickened out after seeing that the JO did not have the required numbers.

JO leader Rajapaksa had argued against the no-confidence move saying that it would only grant Wickremesinghe an opportunity to reiterate his majority in parliament and undermine the recent gains of the JO at local polls. (COLOMBO, March 23, 2018)

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