Allies of Sri Lanka’s embattled President Maithripala Sirisena boycotted parliament yesterday as the country drifted into a second month of political turmoil.
Sirisena loyalists refused to show up at parliament in Colombo, where last week opposing MPs scuffled and threw objects across the chamber, forcing the legislature to 
The island has been politically paralysed since October 26 when Sirisena sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapakse.
Parliament has twice voted against the former president but he has refused to back down. Wickremesinghe, who holds a majority on the floor, has also not stepped aside.
The speaker of parliament has not recognised either man – leaving the country adrift with rival factions claiming to command a government.
Sirisena allies have accused the speaker of bias.
“We will not attend parliament until the speaker agrees to act impartially,” said Nimal de Silva, an MP from Sirisena’s United People’s Freedom Alliance.
Their opponents taunted the president, who has ruled out reimposing Wickremesinghe even as Sri Lanka remains locked in a power vacuum.
“Usually you see opposition (parties) boycotting,” Eran Wickramaratne, a Wickremesinghe loyalist, told parliament yesterday. 
“But in Sri Lanka you have the unique situation where a party which claims to be the government is staying away from parliament.”
The ousted prime minister’s United National Party plans to move a motion in parliament on Friday to block any new spending by Sirisena’s administration.
Sri Lanka risks entering 2019 without parliament having approved a budget for the year. 
Moody’s recently downgraded Sri Lanka’s credit rating amid warnings the island could default on its considerable foreign debt.
On Monday, Sri Lanka’s court of appeal accepted a legal challenge against newly appointed Prime Minister Rajapakse and his cabinet.
The court accepted the petition filed by 122 legislators against Rajapakse and 48 others who have been named as ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers in the new government appointed by President Sirisena, Xinhua news agency reported.
The case is to be taken up for preliminary hearing on Friday.
The petitioners are seeking an interim order preventing Rajapakse and his government from exercising any authority of a legitimate cabinet.
The legislators who have filed the petition are from ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe’s UNP, the Tamil National Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.
They argue that a “state of anarchy and chaos” would ensue in the country given that Rajapakse’s cabinet had lost two votes of no-confidence motions and does not command a 
majority in parliament.

Related Story