Sri Lanka president dissolves parliament, orders snap vote

Lester Mason
November 10, 2018

President Maithripala Sirisena, who two weeks ago sparked a crisis by sacking the prime minister and installing former leader Mahinda Rajapakse in his place, signed a decree for elections to be held January 5, almost two years ahead of schedule.

"The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament", said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at New Delhi-based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly well ahead of its August 2020 term expiry, state television reported.

By avoiding a test of his majority on the floor of the House, Rajapaksa will remain caretaker prime minister until elections are concluded and a new parliament meets on January 17. Sirisena said he had to fire Wickremesinghe for mismanaging the economy and because of a Cabinet minister's alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Sirisena.

He said the UNP will expect the Elections Commissioner to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court against the illegal actions of the President.

According to the relevant Gazette, the fifth day of January 2019 has been fixed as the date for the election of the Members of Parliament.

Sirisena had previously suspended the Parliament till November 16.

Sirisena's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had the backing of 96 legislators prior to the crisis, has managed to woo at least nine legislators to switch support in the past two weeks.

Under pressure from the United Nations, the USA and the European Union to allow a parliamentary vote, Sirisena agreed three times to lift the suspension but changed his mind each time.

The EU, in a joint statement with Norway and Switzerland, called for parliament to reconvene and hold an immediate vote.

Wickremesinghe insists he holds a majority in parliament and has refused to vacate his position while Rajapaksa - a former strongman who ruled as president between 2005 and 2015 - enjoys widespread support for ending the country's brutal 26-year civil war.

"You have not let this country be plunged into the darkness of dictatorship".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article