Sri Lanka's president suspends parliament until May 8

President Maithripala Sirisena looks on during a parliamentary session in Colombo in 2017.
President Maithripala Sirisena looks on during a parliamentary session in Colombo in 2017.PHOTO: AFP

COLOMBO (REUTERS) - Sri Lanka's president suspended parliament on Thursday (April 12) until May 8, days after a failed no-confidence motion attempt against the prime minister and the defection of several ministers forced a Cabinet reshuffle.

Only one parliament sitting was scheduled before May 8 and the new Cabinet will be sworn in on April 23, two government legislators said.

"The president has prorogued parliament until May 8," President Maithripala Sirisena's secretary, Austin Fernando, said, declining to say why.

A senior minister, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said: "The prorogation means all the existing parliament committees will be lapsed and new committees have to be appointed when the parliament is reconvened."

Some main parliament committees including those looking into public enterprises and accounts are headed by opposition lawmakers.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe survived the confidence vote which was sponsored by opponents who blame him for failing to prevent an alleged scam in the bond market and anti-Muslim riots last month.

But 16 lawmakers, most of them ministers, from Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) voted in favour of the no-confidence motion. They resigned their portfolios and decided to sit with the opposition, weakening the SLFP's coalition with Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).

Sirisena appointed four ministers on a temporary basis to handle the main ministries.

Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, one of the 16 legislators who decided to join the opposition said: "We were to cross over and sit with the opposition on April 19. Now we will do that on May 8."