Sri Lanka's president suspends parliament until May 8
April 12 2018 08:27 PM
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena


Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena suspended parliament until May 8 late on Thursday, his secretary said, in a surprise move days after fractures appeared in the island nation's ruling coalition government.
"The President has prorogued parliament until May 8," Secretary Austin Fernando told Reuters. He declined to give any reasons for the president's decision.
The move came after the government promised a cabinet reshuffle after a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was defeated last week. 
Earlier, six ministers quit the coalition government, forcing Wickremesinghe to patch up his cabinet ahead of a wider reshuffle.
Wickremesinghe gave the duties of the six Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers to four other members of his cabinet.
The prime minister's United National Party had increased pressure on the followers of Sirisena -- who voted against Wickremesinghe in a recent no-confidence motion -- to resign.
With the help of minority Tamil and Muslim parties, the premier defeated the motion, dealing a blow to Sirisena, who had campaigned for Wickremesinghe to stand down.
Those who voted against Wickremesinghe "have no moral right to remain in government", Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said.
Relations between the rival groups in the unity government soured after both suffered losses in February's local council elections.
Former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa's party trounced the UNP and SLFP to win control of two-thirds of the 340 local councils at stake.
In the run-up to the election, Sirisena branded the prime minister and his party as more corrupt than the Rajapaksa regime, which Sirisena and Wickremesinghe jointly toppled in 2015.
A presidential spokesman said a wider government reshuffle would be announced next week.
The SLFP is to decide later this month if it will remain in government. Rajapaksa is pressing for a 2020 national election to be brought forward.

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