Colombo: A Sri Lankan dissident lawmaker, fired by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the Cabinet for his critical views, claimed on Monday that the Opposition has crossed the 113-mark required to win a no-trust motion against the government in the 225-member Parliament.
President Gotabaya, facing fierce public protests against his government's mishandling of the country's worst economic crisis, had said that he would hand over the government to any group that could muster 113 seats but would not step down from the presidency.
Udaya Gammanpila, who held the energy ministry portfolio before being sacked by Gotabaya Rajapaksa along with industry minister Wimal Weerawansa for openly criticising then finance minister and the president's younger brother Basil Rajapaksa, is advocating an all-party interim government with the resignation of prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Gammanpila said that with enough numbers of MPs breaking away from the government and with support from the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Marxist Janatha Vikmuthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), they are assured of winning the no-trust vote. "We told the SJB to wait till we could get 113, now we have 120," he said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has not informed any group that he will resign from the premiership as he still has the majority in Parliament, senior officials from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) told the Daily Mirror newspaper. Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his discussions with Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) members, independent and religious groups, had not discussed his resignation as he still has over 100 seats in Parliament, the PMO said, responding to claims by Gammanpila that 120 MPs were now supporting the no-confidence motion against the premier after he informed that he was ready to step down.
Meanwhile, in a letter to the powerful Buddhist clergy, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that while he respects the advice of the clergy, the changes, if any, in the system of governance must be made in line with the specified constitutional provisions.