Thousands march in support of Sri Lanka's new government

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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.

Ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe says there is credible evidence that his replacement is attempting to buy support in parliament ahead of an expected vote of confidence when it reconvenes.

The UN chief told Sirisena that he was following developments in Sri Lanka "with concern", and "urged the president to revert to parliamentary procedures and allow the parliament to vote as soon as possible", a UN statement said.

Palitha Range Bandara, a legislator of Wickremesinghe's party, has said he was offered Dollars 2.8 million to extend support to Rajapaksa's bid to prove his majority.

Mr Wickremesinghe, who has challenged his dismissal and vowed to remain prime minister until Parliament voted him out, said there were global concerns about a government led by Mr Rajapaksa.

Tamil support is decisive for Wickremesinghe - who has remained bunkered in the official prime minister's residence since his sacking, seeking to bolster his numbers in the assembly.

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The current suspension of parliament by the president is seen as a key to Rajapaksa negotiating for enough defections.

Wickremesinghe was sacked mainly over the accusation that he had failed to take strong steps to investigate the alleged plot to assassinate President Maithripala Sirisena. Further, Ranil Wickramasinghe's administration chose to undemocratically appoint the Leader of the Opposition in the country's Parliament, a MP who had only 16 MPs, ignoring the 56 MPs of the Joint Opposition led by the former President.

Rajapakse-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna said a new caretaker cabinet will be sworn in on Monday. Rajapaksa is credited as a hero by Sri Lanka's ethnic Sinhalese majority for ending the conflict with a faction from the ethnic Tamil minority population. Moreover, Wickremesinghe's popularity began to wane after his government signed an agreement giving a Chinese company an 80% stake and a 99-year lease of a failing port, seeing it as a way to avoid defaulting on Chinese loans.

Mahindananda Aluthgamage, a lawmaker from Rajapaksa's party, denied the allegations.

Wickremesinghe and his party have maintained that the move was illegal as they still held a majority in the House.