Brawl erupts in Sri Lankan Parliament

COLOMBO • Sri Lanka's political crisis descended into farce yesterday with MPs throwing punches and projectiles in Parliament, a day after voting the disputed Prime Minister out of office and leaving the country without a government.

Meanwhile, police said tens of thousands of people took part in a rally in Colombo in support of Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose sacking as prime minister plunged the Indian Ocean nation into turmoil almost three weeks ago.

"It was difficult to make out immediately who was hitting whom, but several were hurt, but not seriously," said an official.

The Speaker adjourned the House till today.

The official said an MP from toppled premier Mahinda Rajapaksa's party injured himself trying to rip out the Speaker's microphone and had to be taken to hospital.

On Oct 26, President Maithripala Sirisena fired Mr Wickremesinghe as prime minister and replaced him with Mr Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's divisive and seasoned political bruiser.

Two weeks later, Mr Sirisena dissolved the strategically important Indian Ocean nation's Parliament and called snap elections for January.

However, these moves were suspended by the Supreme Court on Tuesday pending an investigation.

Day-to-day administration in Sri Lanka remains paralysed as the crisis drags on.

Parliament reconvened on Wednesday and lawmakers approved a motion of no-confidence in what they called Mr Rajapaksa's "purported" Cabinet, also passing motions declaring Mr Sirisena's moves illegal.

Thursday's routine Parliament session, the first since Mr Rajapaksa and his disputed administration were deposed, had begun with the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announcing that the country now had no government.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2018, with the headline 'Brawl erupts in Sri Lankan Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe