Sri Lanka rivals target defectors to end political crisis

A Sri Lankan legislator on Friday said he had been offered $2.8 million and a ministerial post by a telephone caller from the opposite camp to switch his support to new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in a week-old political crisis.

However, it is not apparent that he has the votes and now President Sirisena has been accused of attempting to bribe MPs into switching sides.

Later, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya claimed that the parliament would be convened on the 7th November after discussion with the President.

Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports from Colombo.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. UN Chief "offered assistance in facilitating a dialogue with all the parties to resolve the situation", his office added.

Adding an extra flair of worldwide drama to everything is that President Sirisena recently alleged that a shadowy assassination plot was being hatched against him, which he confirmed on Sunday was the main reason why he sacked his Prime Minister.

Rajapaksa's party dismissed the allegation.

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.

The European Union is anxious the return of Rajapaksa as prime minister, could derail progress made toward national reconciliation following a war with ethnic minority Tamil separatists, the report said.

The billions China loaned Sri Lanka to develop the port and airport - a sign of Rajapaksa's pro-China leanings has India anxious.

Premajayantha said that parliament needed time to prepare to meet and there was not enough time to meet on November 5. Thousands of Sri Lankans also protested in the capital in the past week demanding Sirisena immediately convene Parliament.

Wickremensinghe tweeted saying "the people's voices have been heard". Sirisena was also under increasing pressure by rights groups and foreign governments including the United States to summon Parliament and end the crisis.

India will have to keep a keen watch on the developments and ensure that the island does not take a Chinese turn.

  • Rogelio Becker