Why is Sri Lanka important and what’s at stake?

President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday spoke with UN Secretary General António Guterres and apprised him of the political situation in the country. He was also critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's long civil war, which ended in 2009.

Rajapaksa's party dismissed the allegation.

A lawmaker from the main Tamil party defected to the Rajapaksa side and was made a minister on Friday.

Amid the ongoing political tension, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer met Sirisena and Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, delivering Guterres' message for the need to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions.

It has to be mentioned that when Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe was appointed as the Prime Minister in 2015, by the present President of Sri Lanka, he had only 42 MPs backing him whereas the sitting Prime Minister had the support of over 120 MPs. When neither major party received a clear majority in parliamentary elections, Sirisena's party signed an agreement with Ranil Wickremesinghe's party to form a unity government.

Wickremesinghe said in an interview with the AP that there is credible evidence that Rajapaksa's party is attempting to buy support in Parliament.

In almost nine decades of universal adult suffrage in Sri Lanka, Asia's oldest democracy has been no stranger to insurgency, civil war, assassinations and suicide bombers.

"The government got GSP on the basis of certain commitments, if these commitments are not met, then we would consider withdrawal,"EU ambassador to Sri Lanka, Tung-Lai Margue, was quoted as saying to Reuters, a news agency".

Asked what his next step would be if Parliament is not convened before 16 November, Wickremesinghe said that they had a plan in mind and would implement it. On Tuesday, thousands of Sri Lankans protested in the capital demanding Sirisena immediately convene Parliament.

The announcement was made by Parliament spokesman Karu Jayasuriya when he addressed a special meeting of party leaders. Says he urged President to hold urgent parliamentary vote to resolve crisis legally.

India will have to keep a keen watch on the developments and ensure that the island does not take a Chinese turn.

  • Joey Payne