Sri Lankan Pres­i­dent dis­solves Par­lia­ment amidst po­lit­i­cal cri­sis

■ Gen­eral elec­tion to be held on Jan­uary 5

The Hitavada - - FRONT PAGE -

SRI Lanka’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis deep­ened on Fri­day af­ter its Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena dis­solved Par­lia­ment, paving the way for a gen­eral elec­tion to be held on Jan­uary 5, nearly two years ahead of its time.

Sirisena signed a gazette no­ti­fi­ca­tion to dis­solve the na­tion’s Par­lia­ment with ef­fect from Fri­day mid­night, in an­other sur­prise move that comes af­ter two weeks of po­lit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional tur­moil. Ac­cord­ing to the gazette no­tice, nom­i­na­tions to con­test the snap elec­tion would be taken be­tween No­vem­ber 19 and 26.

The elec­tion will be held Jan­uary 5 and the new Par­lia­ment would be con­vened on Jan­uary 17. Sirisena is­sued a gazette notic­ing that Par­lia­ment stands dis­solved some 21 months ahead of its sched­ule in Au­gust 2020, amid a wors­en­ing con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis trig­gered by the sur­prise sack­ing of Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe.

The dis­so­lu­tion comes hours af­ter a close aide of the Pres­i­dent said Sirisena had de­cided that there will be no snap elec­tions or a na­tional ref­er­en­dum to end the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal and con­sti­tu­tional crises in Sri Lanka.

An­a­lysts said Fri­day night’s dis­so­lu­tion was again un­con­sti­tu­tional in terms of the four and a half year term rule in the 19th amend­ment. “We ve­he­mently re­ject the dis­so­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment. He has robbed the peo­ple of their rights”, Wick­remesinghe led United Na­tional Party (UNP) said in a

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

Sri Lanka was plunged into a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis af­ter Sirisena sacked Prime Min­is­ter Ranil Wick­remesinghe on Oc­to­ber 26 and re­placed him with his for­mer ri­val Mahinda Ra­japaksa.

Wick­remesinghe, who dubbed the move as a “con­sti­tu­tional coup”, has re­fused to va­cate his of­fi­cial res­i­dence, say­ing he is the law­ful prime min­is­ter and that the pres­i­dent has no con­sti­tu­tional right to re­place him.

His re­quest for a floor test to prove his ma­jor­ity in the House has been turned down.

He cited the 19th amend­ment to the Constitution in which the pres­i­dent has been barred from sack­ing a prime min­is­ter or dis­solv­ing Par­lia­ment be­fore the ex­piry of its four and a half years term.

Af­ter Wick­remesinghe's sack­ing, Sirisena sus­pended Par­lia­ment un­til No­vem­ber 16. It was to al­low Ra­japaksa to muster the 113 seats re­quired to prove his ma­jor­ity.

Sri Lankan strong­man and for­mer pres­i­dent Ra­japaksa, how­ever, re­mains short of the 'magic num­ber' 113 re­quired to prove his ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment, his spokesman ac­knowl­edged Fri­day.

Par­lia­ment Speaker Karu Jaya­suriya on Mon­day slammed Sirisena's “un­con­sti­tu­tional and un­demo­cratic” ac­tions to sack Prime Min­is­ter Wick­remesinghe and sus­pend Par­lia­ment, say­ing he will not recog­nise Ra­japaksa as the new premier un­less he wins a floor test.

The Assem­bly Speaker wants the floor test to take place on No­vem­ber 14.

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