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Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa

Tamil prisoners may be released to tilt scales in favour of Rajapaksa

Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and replacing him with Rajapaksa, a controversial former president, on October 26.

Sirisena has said Wickremesinghe was removed after his cabinet was dissolved in line with the constitution, but Wickremesinghe loyalists say it was unconstitutional.

While the president has the authority to appoint the prime minister, he does not have the power to sack the incumbent, legal experts have said, citing constitutional amendments passed three years ago.

Sirisena's summons comes after Wickremesinghe's UNP said on Friday that 118 lawmakers had met the speaker to demand parliament be allowed to convene.

The tough statement from Jayasuriya came after Sirisena announced on Sunday that parliament would reconvene on November 14, a week later than he had promised.

However, Wickremesinghe said the Police had launched an investigation into the allegations and that it was being seriously looked into.

President Maithripala Sirisena fired the sitting prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on October 26 and appointed Rajapaksa in his place, drawing criticism from political parties and the worldwide community.

Soon after taking over Rajapaksa said he wanted to end the "politics of hate" in the country and that his government will work for justice for all citizens.

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The United Nations and many Western countries have urged Sirisena to summon the House immediately.

He said he fired the prime minister because Wickremesinghe was trying to implement "a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people's sentiment".

"Foreign countries are trying to take our resources, take our land", said Mithra Kumara Jayasinghe, a wedding photographer at the rally who said he had voted for Mr Rajapaksa the two times he was elected president, in 2005 and 2010, and when he lost a re-election bid in 2015.

TNA legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan said the president had called the Tamil legislators to a meeting Wednesday - the same day parliament was expected to reconvene. "The public must protest the way the MPs are being brought for money", Abeywardena said. The President also requested former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to let the new government proceed with its business without any hindrance.

While Wickremesinghe is staying on in the premier's residence called Temple Trees, Rajapaksa has taken over the offices of the prime minister following his swearing in.

Sirisena made the decision after his United People's Freedom Alliance pulled out of the national unity government which it had formed with Wickremesinghe's United National Party.

"However, the Prime Minister said it was not hard for both of them to work together as they had a very old friendship".

The Sunday Times of Colombo newspaper described the sacking of the prime minister as "sheer political expediency" and outside the law.