Published: Sun, November 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Sri Lanka crisis: President Sirisena dissolves parliament, calls for snap polls

Sri Lanka crisis: President Sirisena dissolves parliament, calls for snap polls

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night and called a general election for January 5 in a move that will likely deepen the country's political crisis. Sirisena also called a general election for January 5.

In a situation that has developed into a full-blown political crisis for the South Asian island nation, Wickremesinghe has refused to leave his position since being expelled by Sirisena on October 26.

"It's totally unconstitutional", Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe's United National Party and a former government minister, said.

Sirisena had suspended the House until November 16 which was later advanced by two days following worldwide pressure.

He accused sacked premier Wickremesinghe of causing instability by refusing to vacate his official residence, a charge rejected by him as well as several other parties who together command a majority in parliament.

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He said the House was dissolved at a time when Tamils all over the world were expecting annulment of Rajapaksa's appointment as the prime minister by parliament, an "atrocious act that would root out democracy".

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

Sirisena had come under increased global pressure from the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to allow parliament to vote on which Prime Minister should form a government.

Mangala Samaraweera, finance minister in Wickremesinghe's sacked cabinet, said Saturday that their United National Party (UNP) would file a challenge with Sri Lanka's top court next week, saying the president had "kicked the constitution in the teeth".

"You cannot read the constitution in one provision in isolation - you have to read it as a whole, especially when amendments have been brought", he said, adding that "before the 19th amendment, the president could dissolve Parliament at will after one year".

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Supporters of ousted Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe shout slogans as they gather at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo early November 10.

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena's move.

Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader Anbumani Ramadoss said although it was Sri Lanka's internal issue, the Centre can not overlook the developments as the security of India and the welfare of the Tamil population of the island nation was at stake. Before signing the order, Sirisena inducted more ministers into the cabinet headed by Rajapakse. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper".

Independent legal experts have told Reuters that parliament could be dissolved only in early 2020, which would be four-and-half-years from the first sitting of the current parliament.

"We will fight the emerging tyranny of Sirisena".

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Mark Field, the British minister of state for Asia and the Pacific, tweeted: "As a friend of Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes".

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