Fighting breaks out in Sri Lankan parliament

I have written before about the Byzantine political intrigues in Sri Lanka that has led to political turmoil. A measure of how things have deteriorated can be seen by a fight that broke out in the Sri Lankan parliament when some members rushed at the Speaker.

The latest chaos followed the abrupt decision by the president Maithripala Sirisena (MS) on October 26 to dismiss the prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) and install the leader of the opposition party Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) in his place. MR had been president and MS one of his cabinet members before MS and some of his supporters defected from MR’s party, joined up with RW’s party in a coalition, defeated MR in the next presidential election, dissolved parliament and called for new elections in which RW’s party became the largest one, and then appointed RW as prime minister. Got that? That kind of shifting alliances is not uncommon in Sri Lankan politics.

The recent falling out between MS and RW has triggered the current state of confusion. RW has said that his dismissal was unconstitutional, but MS went ahead and appointed MR as prime minister and also appointed a cabinet. When it became clear that MR did not have the support of the majority in parliament, MS first suspended parliament, a move that was challenged, and then he brought it back into session to enable MR to show that he had majority support. When that support did not materialize, MS dissolved parliament and called for new elections but then the Supreme Court stepped in and said that he could not do that.

It appears that RW’s party then brought a no-confidence vote against MR and it passed on Wednesday. MR addressed the parliament on Thursday and apparently the fight started when the Speaker called for a vote on whether to approve or reject MR’s remarks. Parliament has been adjourned until Friday afternoon but it is hard to see how this impasse will be resolved.

It is truly a mess.


  1. Mano Singham says


    I looked it up and Sri Lanka has only about 6% women MPs (I think there are 13 women in the 225 seat body), which is very low.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Let’s hope that 6% are taking martial-arts lessons, so they can fulfill the full range of their parliamentary duties.

  3. Dunc says

    Well, it’s kinda nice to know that there’s somewhere where politics are an even worse mess than in the UK right now…

  4. jrkrideau says

    I thought it was only Japan (and perhaps Ukraine) where there were actual riots in Parliament. Still no one seemed to be using weapons.

    The political situation seems straightforward. Of course, I live in Canada where at any moment there are 3 to 5 parties (depending on where one lives) each of which can form the government. And one (rarely) sees alliances among those parties.

    We just, so far, have not had battles in the House. Maybe next week?

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