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Lanka Prez under attack from Oppn over no trust motion defeat

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Colombo, Apr 5 : Sri Lanka’s Joint Opposition has accused President Maithripala Sirisena of “betraying” not only them but also his own party and allies, after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe comfortably won a no-trust motion.

Wickremesinghe, 68, who leads a national unity government in alliance with Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), received 122 votes against the motion while 76 favoured the motion to oust him.

Banking on votes of legislators of Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), former President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition moved the motion, accusing Wickremesinghe of financial mismanagement and his failure to tackle anti-Muslim riots last month in the central Kandy district.

Only 19 out of Sirisena’s 40 plus MPs voted while 22 of them remain absent in the House, helping the Sri Lankan Prime Minister to sail through.

“President Sirisena’s habit of betrayal proven again at the no confidence motion. First he encouraged SLFP members to support it and then backs off. He has betrayed both the SLFP and the UNP,” Rajpaksha’s legislator son Namal Rajapaksa tweeted last night.

Wickremesinghe also got help of Tamil and Muslim minority parties.

“Sirisena must take the responsibility for preventing the end of the Prime Minister’s political journey,” a senior opposition leader Prasanna Ranatunga said.

According to the final vote tally, even if legislators of Sirisena and Rajapaksa-led parties had voted for the motion, Wickremesinghe would still had sailed through as no member from his UNP broke ranks.

The 19 ministers, who had voted against Wickremesinghe, have asked that they be allowed to continue in the cabinet despite their lack of confidence in the unity government.

The UNP backbenchers, however, signed a petition addressed to Sirisena to sack the SLFP dissenters in the cabinet.

Wickremesinghe has no power to remove ministers. It can only be done either by Sirisena or through a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

“The conspirators who undermined the government during the last 3 years must be sacked,” a UNP legislator Hesha Withanage said.

After winning the trust vote last night, Wickremesinghe said the government would venture in a new journey with all those who supported.

“We have lost some but we can move forward with the rest.” He was hoping to meet Sirisena soon to discuss the future of the government and to preserve the mandate received by Sirisena in January 2015 for implementing reform.

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