Sri Lankan par­lia­ment dis­solved by pres­i­dent


Sri Lanka Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena Fri­day or­dered the im­me­di­ate dis­missal of par­lia­ment, clear­ing the way for a snap elec­tion 10 months ahead of sched­ule.

Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena dis­solved the leg­is­la­ture “with ef­fect from mid­night to­day” in an of­fi­cial procla­ma­tion and said he would sum­mon the new par­lia­ment to sit on Sept. 1.

The pres­i­dent de­creed that elec­tions would be held across the is­land on Aug.17, with can­di­dates given a week end­ing July 13 to file nom­i­na­tion pa­pers, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe has pressed for early elec­tions to in­crease the ma­jor­ity of his United Na­tional Party (UNP), which sat in op­po­si­tion un­til Sirisena’s vic­tory in Jan­uary’s polls.

Wick­remesinghe’s deputy, Har­sha de Silva, said the UNP wel­comed the elec­tion as an op­por­tu­nity to in­crease the party’s strength in the leg­is­la­ture and en­sure sta­bil­ity.

“Once the new gov­ern­ment is es­tab­lished we will have our poli­cies spelt out and it will be good for ev­ery­body and for in­vest­ment con­fi­dence,” de Silva said.

The top­pling of strong­man Mahinda Ra­japakse, who had ruled for al­most a decade, led to a mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment which was un­able to im­ple­ment its leg­isla­tive re­forms with­out the sup­port of the op­po­si­tion.

But Sirisena in­her­ited the out­go­ing par­lia­ment from his au­to­cratic pre­de­ces­sor, who still con­trolled a loyal band of law­mak­ers who re­peat­edly blocked most of the re- forms, in­clud­ing fis­cal pol­icy moves.

How­ever, Sirisena man­aged to re­store the two-term limit on the pres­i­dency which Ra­japakse had re­moved in 2010 and also re­duce the pres­i­den­tial term and the life of a par­lia­ment to five years, down from six.

The par­lia­ment that will be elected in Au­gust can­not be sacked by the pres­i­dent for four and a half years. Pre­vi­ously, a pres­i­dent could dis­miss the assem­bly af­ter it com­pleted one year of its full sixyear term.


A Sri Lankan ven­dor dis­plays news­pa­pers for sale at a stall in Colombo on Satur­day, June 27.

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