The political crisis in Sri Lanka deepened Friday after President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved Parliament, paving the way for early general elections in the country. According to a notification, general elections will be held on January 5 and the new Parliament will meet on January 17.
The dissolution of Parliament comes days after Ranil Wickremesinghe was sacked as Prime Minister and replaced by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. On Friday, the strength of Sirisena and Rajapaksa’s coalition in Parliament stood at 106, seven short of the simple majority mark. Rajapaksa was to prove his strength on the floor of the House on November 14.
A top source in Sirisena’s office told The Indian Express that the decision to dissolve Parliament was taken around 6 pm on Friday, followed by a meeting with his party leaders. A gazette notification was signed to enforce the decision with effect from midnight Friday.
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In a statement, Wickremesinghe’s UNP said: “We vehemently reject the dissolution of Parliament. He has robbed the people of their rights.” Sources said the decision to dissolve the House itself unconstitutional given the four-and-half-year term rule in the 19th Amendment.
Senior political analyst Kusal Perera, based in Colombo, said that the new scenario would lead to immediate general elections. “After Rajapaksa was made PM, they expected it would be easy for them to get the minimum majority number. But, their calculations did not work out as expected. Even after the President prorogued Parliament till November 16, he advanced the date for the next Parliament session to November 14.
Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, founder executive director of the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) in Colombo, told The Indian Express that Wickremesinghe’s UNP can challenge the “unconstitutional” decision by the President after studying the grounds on which the decision was taken.
“The immediate impact of this political scenario is either a legal challenge or general elections,” he said.