No Majority for Rajapaksa, Sirisena Dissolves House
Agence France Presse
Colombo: President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday dissolved the Sri Lankan parliament hours after his party announced he did not have a majority to get his prime ministerial nominee Mahinda Rajapaksa elected as PM. Sirisena signed an official notification dismi s s i n g the 2 2 5 - me mb e r Parliament with effect from Friday midnight, clearing the way for a snap election nearly two years ahead of schedule, a minister said, asking not to be named.
“The election is likely to be held in early January,” the minister told AFP after the United People’s Freedom Alliance said they were eight legislators short of a majority in the 225-member parliament that remained suspended. The reaction of rival claimant for the premier’s post, Ranil Wickremesinghe — who was sacked by his erstwhile coalition partner but had refused to leave the premier’s official residence amid the power struggle — was not known. The president had suspended parliament in the hope of cobbling up a majority from defectors but after two weeks into a showdown with Wickremesinghe, the Sri Lankan president’s party admitted earlier in the day that it did not have a majority to get its candidate through a parliamentary vote of confidence.
Sirisena had on Monday claimed that he had the support of 113 legi s l a t o r s wh e n h e sacked Wickremesinghe and his government. “Do not doubt the 113 MPs. We have completed getting 113 MPs,” Sirisena told a public rally. The Sirisena-Rajapaksa camp has insisted since the start of the dispute that it had enough legislators on its side.
“You have not let this country be plunged into the darkness of dictatorship. For this inspiring effort, I want to thank everyone who has risen to fight for democracy and justice,” Wickremesinghe had said after his supporters staged a noisy protest with cavalcade of motorcycles, auto-rickshaws, cars and vans in the capital Colombo on Thursday. The power struggle on the island of 21 million people has paralysed much of the administration, according to legislators on both sides of the dispute. Sirisena had kept 8 cabinet positions vacant to tempt legislators of Wickremesinghe’s party.