In a significant development, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed President Maithripala Sirisena’s order to dissolve Parliament until December 7, Reuters reported. The court’s move comes days after Sirisena had paved the way for early general elections in the country following the sacking of Parliament.
Sirisena’s decision was heavily criticised by ousted prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, some political parties and civil society groups and had termed the move as “unconstitutional” and “illegal”. On Sunday, President Sirisena had defended his controversial decision to dissolve Parliament, saying it was taken to prevent clashes among rival lawmakers.
In an address to the nation, Sirisena had outlined the reasons for dissolving parliament almost two years ahead of schedule. The president had also said there were media reports that politicians would clash during a vote to decide between two men claiming the premiership.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s move, Wickremesinghe said the “people have won their first victory”.
The people have won their first victory. Let’s go forward and re-establish the sovereignty of the people in our beloved country.
— Ranil Wickremesinghe (@RW_UNP) November 13, 2018
On October 26, Sirisena abruptly sacked Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, after three-and-a-half years of an estranged relationship with him. The island nation plunged into a constitutional crisis following the move. Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16. Later, owing to domestic and international pressure, he issued a notice to reconvene parliament on November 14.
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.