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1 legislator hospitalized after Sri Lanka parliament brawl

By
Sommer Brokaw
Government and opposition members confront each other during the parliamentary session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday. Photo by M.A.Pushpa Kumara/ EPA-EFE
Government and opposition members confront each other during the parliamentary session in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday. Photo by M.A.Pushpa Kumara/ EPA-EFE

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- One member of Sri Lanka's parliament was hospitalized Thursday after another was accused of brandishing a knife during a brawl on the legislature's floor.

The political turmoil arises from conflict over the country's prime minister seat. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe represent different parties of a coalition government and their partnership broke when Sirisena dismissed Wickremesinghe from his post as prime minister last month, which experts argue was unconstitutional.

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Sirisena replaced Wickremesinghe of the United National Party with Mahinda Rajapaksa and both now argue they're the rightful prime minister. The country's supreme court temporarily halted Sirisena's effort to force Wickremesinghe out by dissolving parliament and holding a snap election on January 5.

On Wednesday, parliament members passed a no-confidence motion against Rajapaksa, but his supporters refused to accept its legitimacy, leaving the prime minister position in limbo.

On Thursday, those tensions erupted as Rajapaksa's supporters rushed at the parliament's speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, who was defended by legislators aligned with Wickremesinghe. A UNP member appeared to be brandishing a knife as more than three dozen parliament members went at each other in a brawl for several minutes on the floor.

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Rajapaksa loyalist Dilum Amunugama was cut as he tried to take the speaker's microphone and was later hospitalized.

UNP member Harsha da Silva referred to the incident as the "most shameful day in parliament."

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