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As Sri Lankan opposition seeks support for a no-confidence motion, Rajapaksas determined to hold on

Sir Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (Photo: Mahinda Rajapaksa/Twitter)

Opposition party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has prepared a no-confidence motion against Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, which will be submitted before the parliament when it reconvenes. The Daily Mirror reported that another opposition party, the UNP, is collecting signatures from opposition MPs to reach the magic figure of 113 in a 225-member parliament.

The opposition parties are even approaching MPs of President Rajapaksa's party–the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) in a bid to persuade them to vote against their own government.

The earlier bid by former ministers–Udaya Gammanpila and Wimal Weerawansa, who were fired from their ministerial positions by the president in March, seems to have failed due to lesser numbers of MPs supporting a no-confidence motion. Just three days back the two former ministers had claimed to have managed support from 120 MPs to oust the president.

If a no-confidence motion brought by any of the opposition parties is successful, then the parliament will appoint a new president. Amid rumours of a rift between President Rajapaksa and his brother Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the latter told journalists that he is not stepping down and there are no differences between him and his younger brother, reported The Island newspaper.

Meanwhile, a 24-hour nation-wide strike called by Sri Lankan trade unions for Thursday resulted in disruption of train services. Nearly 1,000 trade unions have joined the strike against the government to demand the resignations of the President, the Prime Minister and the Government.

The unions, representing a cross-section of the Sri Lankan society, want to replace the current government with a structure that empowers people and can resolve the socio-economic problems confronting the nation.

The unions plan to march to the iconic Galle Face sea front to join protestors who are camping permanently for nearly ten days now urging the president to resign. The Galle Face area lies close to the presidential office as well. People are holding protests across the country including capital Colombo.

The Sri Lankan government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan to stabilise the socio-economic situation in the country. Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis due to mounting foreign debt. For the past few months, India has been helping the country manage its food and oil imports through a $1.5 billion loan, supplemented by another $500 million for essential imports.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told Sri Lankan Foreign Minister GL Peiris that it will donate medical supplies to Sri Lanka through the Sri Lanka Red Cross and can also provide humanitarian assistance based on local requirements.