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Sri Lanka’s government in deep crisis over finance vote

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s de facto opposition scored a major victory when they successfully challenged the government’s narrow margin in getting a supplementary vote passed in the assembly on Thursday.

At a party leader’s meeting earlier in the day, it had been agreed to pass the additional Rs55 million allocation without a vote, but when the resolution was taken up, the opposition sprang a surprise and called for a vote.

The government benches were depleted, but the Sri Lanka Freedom Party dissidents were in strength and insisted on a vote.

The secretary general of parliament gave the result as 33 in favour of the resolution and 30 against, allowing the motion to be carried. However, the SLFP dissidents demanded a review of television footage and secured a recount.

The results of the re-count carried out behind closed doors were not announced, but opposition MP Wimal Weerawansa told reporters that the fresh count showed a tie at 31 each for both sides.

"This is a very serious matter, the secretary general of parliament should resign," Weerawansa said. "We are calling for a fresh vote. We prevented a wrong result being recorded as correct."

The surprise call for a vote is a repeat of what happened in April last year when the opposition successfully defeated a government motion to raise borrowing limits.

Thursday’s vote crisis underscored the government’s shaky position in the assembly and President Maithripala Sirisena’s weak hold on the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

(COLOMBO, May 5, 2016)

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