Lankan leader to convene parliament next week

A man walks past a poster of Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisen

A man walks past a poster of Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisen

Sri Lanka will lose duty free access to the European Union if the country goes back to violating human rights, an ambassador has said, amid a political crisis sparked by a contested appointment of a new prime minister.

Sirisena suspended Parliament in an apparent attempt to give Rajapaksa time to muster support to survive any no-confidence vote.

His call for a floor test in parliament has been ignored by Sirisena who has suspended parliament until November 16.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports from Colombo.

Tensions have been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister.

Guterres "offered assistance in facilitating a dialogue with all the parties to resolve the situation", it said.

"I was asked to make a step forward to become a cabinet minister", Bandara told reporters as he played a voice recording of a conversation he allegedly had with a Sirisena loyalist, who told him that he would be rewarded with a Cabinet position. 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.

It has two prime ministers, or at least two politicians both laying claim to be the sole legal head of government. Moreover, Wickremesinghe's popularity began to wane after his government signed an agreement giving a Chinese company an 80% stake and a 99-year lease of a failing port, seeing it as a way to avoid defaulting on Chinese loans.

Rajapakse loyalists are arranging a mass rally on Monday near the parliament complex to support to what the local media has dubbed a "constitutional coup".

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.

Further, it has to be mentioned as Australia has expressed their wish for Sri Lanka to use democratic means in facing the present issue, that the base of democratic government in Sri Lanka was crushed by Ranil Wickramasinghe's administration when they decided not have Provincial Council elections, after his party's island wide defeat in local government elections conducted early this year. Thousands of Sri Lankans also protested in the capital in the past week demanding Sirisena immediately convene Parliament.

Wickremesinghe had demanded the convening of Parliament, saying he still controls a majority of lawmakers. Jayasuriya, in a meeting with political party legislators, said President Sirisena had in a telephone conversation informed him that parliament would convene on November 7 and a gazette notification would be issued either Friday or Saturday.

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