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New Sri Lankan PM Ousted in Parliamentary No-Confidence Vote

Sri Lanka's parliament members argue in front of Speaker of the Parliament Karu Jayasuriya during the parliament session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Nov. 14, 2018.

Sri Lanka's political crisis deepened Wednesday after lawmakers approved a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, creating a power vacuum.

Parliament speaker Karu Jayasuriya held a voice vote after Rajapaksa's supporters staged an impromptu rally in the chamber before debate began over the motion. But the results have been a foregone conclusion after Jayasuriya said last week that Rajapaksa did not have enough support to survive the vote.

The crisis began on October 26, when President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, claiming that an informant told police that a Cabinet minister was part of a plot to assassinate him. He replaced Wickremesinghe with Rajapaksa, the country's former president and strongman, then suspended parliament the next day. In an apparent bow to international pressure, Sirisena summoned lawmakers back to work last Monday.

But when it became apparent that Rajapaksa would not survive the no-confidence vote, Sirisena dissolved parliament and called for snap elections. The Supreme Court overruled the president's decree in a ruling issued Tuesday.

Wickremesinghe praised the no-confidence vote during a press conference outside the prime minister's official residence in Colombo, where he remains in defiance of Sirisena's actions. He urged civil servants to ignore any orders from the Rajapaksa-led government.