Even as Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena swore in a new cabinet after sacking the previous prime minister, the Speaker of Parliament warned of a “bloodbath” in the country.
The warning from Karu Jayasuriya, the parliamentary speaker, came hours after dismissed Ranil Wickremesinghe, the country's prime minister, also demanded the reconvening of Parliament, saying he still controls a majority of the lawmakers.
Wickremesinghe said Monday that "Parliament can decide who has the majority. We can all abide by it." "At the moment, there is a vacuum and constitutional crisis. This is why we are asking Parliament to be summoned," he said.
Jayasuriya said the crisis should be resolved by Parliament and added that he has already asked Sirisena to summon lawmakers. "Some are trying to resolve this matter in the streets. If that happens, a bloodbath could occur," he said.
Two people died and one was wounded in a shooting Sunday at the Petroleum Ministry, the first violence related to the political turmoil.
There is growing international pressure on Sirisena to resolve the crisis. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington is following the events "with concern" and called on Sirisena to reconvene Parliament.
Sirisena said he sacked Wickremesinghe mainly because of the alleged involvement of a Cabinet minister in a plot to assassinate him. He did not reveal details of the alleged plot.
Sirisena's supporters have talked for weeks about an alleged plot, but Sunday was the first time Sirisena commented publicly about it.
Sirisena proceeded on Monday to swear in 12 Cabinet ministers, one state minister and a deputy minister. The portfolio of finance minister was given to newly sworn in prime minister and former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. The rest of the ministers will be appointed later, Dharma Sri Ekanayake, a presidential spokesman, said.
During his decade-long tenure Rajapaksa drew close to China for political support loans. Cheng Xueyuan, China's ambassador to Colombo, met separately with Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe on Saturday.
Lu Kang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, said Beijing was closely following the situation but believed Sri Lanka had "enough wisdom" to resolve it internally.