Rival lawmakers exchanged blows in Sri Lanka’s Parliament on Thursday as disputed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse claimed the speaker had no authority to remove him from office by voice vote. The fighting in the chamber came a day after it passed a no-confidence vote against Rajapakse’s government.
When Parliament re-convened, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said the country had no government and there was no prime minister – either Rajapakse or his rival whose ousting in late October by the president started the crisis. Rajapakse disagreed, saying “a vote should have been taken. Such important motions should not be passed by a voice vote.”
He added that Jayasuriya has no power to remove or appoint the prime minister and Cabinet members. He accused the speaker of being partial and representing the position of his party, the United National Party, which is led by ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Rajapakse also called for fresh elections, suggesting that it was the best way to resolve the crisis. A brawl erupted after the opposition asked for a vote on Rajapakse’s statement, with lawmakers supporting him gathering in the middle of the house while some ran toward the speaker shouting slogans condemning his behavior. (AP)