Sri Lankan pres­i­dent dis­solves Par­lia­ment

Afghan ri­vals hold talks


COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, Nov 10, (Agen­cies): Sri Lanka’s pres­i­dent dis­solved Par­lia­ment and called for elec­tions on Jan 5 in a bid to stave off a deep­en­ing po­lit­i­cal cri­sis over his dis­missal of the prime min­is­ter that op­po­nents say is un­con­sti­tu­tional.

An official no­ti­fi­ca­tion signed by Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena an­nounced the dis­so­lu­tion of Par­lia­ment ef­fec­tive mid­night Fri­day. It said the names of can­di­dates will be called be­fore Nov 26 and the new Par­lia­ment is to con­vene Jan 17.

Sri Lanka has been in a cri­sis since Oct 26, when Sirisena fired his prime min­is­ter, Ranil Wick­remesinghe, and re­placed him with for­mer strong­man Mahinda Ra­japakse. Both say they com­mand a ma­jor­ity in Par­lia­ment and had been ex­pected to face the 225-mem­ber house on Wed­nes­day af­ter it was sus­pended for about 19 days.

For­eign Min­is­ter Sarath Amunugama told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Satur­day that the rea­son for the pres­i­dent to dis­solve Par­lia­ment was the need to go to the peo­ple to find a res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis.

“On the 14th there was to be a lot of com­mo­tion and un­par­lia­men­tary ac­tiv­i­ties spon­sored by the speaker,” Amunugama said. “The speaker was not plan­ning to act ac­cord­ing to the con­sti­tu­tion and stand­ing or­ders of Par­lia­ment.”

Sirisena’s sup­port­ers had been irked by Speaker Karu Jaya­suriya’s an­nounce­ment that he was go­ing to call for a vote for ei­ther party to prove their sup­port.

“The dis­so­lu­tion clearly in­di­cates that Mr Sirisena has grossly mis­judged and mis­cal­cu­lated the sup­port that he might or could se­cure to demon­strate sup­port in the Par­lia­ment,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, di­rec­tor at US-based an­a­lyst group Atlantic Coun­cil’s South Asia Cen­ter. “At the end of the day, he is a vic­tim of his own home­grown cri­sis.”


Afghan ri­vals hold talks in Moscow:

Afghanistan ri­vals failed to reach a break­through on hold­ing direct peace ne­go­ti­a­tions af­ter in­ter­na­tional talks in Moscow on Fri­day, the lat­est in­ter­na­tional push to end the con­flict.

Rus­sia, which said it in­vited rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the United States as well as In­dia, Iran, China and Pak­istan, hailed the meet­ing as an op­por­tu­nity to “open a new page” in Afghanistan’s his­tory and seek an end to the war 17 years af­ter the US-led in­va­sion.

The talks came with the Tale­ban ratch­et­ing up pressure on Afghan po­lice and troops this year even as the mil­i­tants showed a ten­ta­tive will­ing­ness to hold talks with the United States.

The Moscow meet­ings ended with­out the sides agree­ing on a path to direct di­a­logue, the del­e­ga­tions from the Tale­ban and Kabul’s High Peace Coun­cil said.

“This con­fer­ence was not about direct talks,” Tale­ban spokesman Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas Stanikzai told jour­nal­ists in trans­lated com­ments quoted by In­ter­fax news agency.

The Tale­ban “does not rec­og­nize the cur­rent govern­ment as le­gal and there­fore we won’t hold talks with them,” he added.

“Con­sid­er­ing our main de­mand is the with­drawal of for­eign forces, we will dis­cuss a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion with the Amer­i­cans.”

B’desh to hold Dec 23 elec­tions:

Bangladesh’s Elec­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounced Thurs­day that the next na­tional elec­tion will be held Dec 23, de­spite the im­pris­on­ment of the leader of the main op­po­si­tion party and the ban­ning of its chief part­ner.

Chief Elec­tion Com­mis­sioner K.M. Nu­rul Huda said in a tele­vised ad­dress that all ar­range­ments have been made to en­sure the elec­tion will be peace­ful. Can­di­dates must file their ap­pli­ca­tions on Nov 19.

Huda said all po­lit­i­cal par­ties would re­ceive an equal op­por­tu­nity and urged all to con­test the elec­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Sheikh Hasina will head an elec­tion-time govern­ment as pro­vided for in the con­sti­tu­tion. The op­po­si­tion has de­manded an in­de­pen­dent care­taker ad­min­is­tra­tion, say­ing the elec­tion could be rigged un­der Hasina.

Delhi im­poses ban on trucks:

Delhi au­thor­i­ties have im­posed a three-day ban on trucks en­ter­ing the world’s most pol­luted ma­jor city as its 20 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants wheezed in the toxic an­nual win­ter smog.

With lev­els of air pol­lu­tion classed as “haz­ardous”, the re­stric­tion on the nearly 40,000 medium and heavy lor­ries that en­ter Delhi every day was im­posed late Thurs­day.

The trans­port min­istry said that ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing food and other es­sen­tials were ex­empted, while ap­peal­ing to pri­vate own­ers of diesel sports util­ity ve­hi­cles (SUVs) to leave their cars at home.

Delhi’s air quality typ­i­cally wors­ens in win­ter, as clouds of smoke from farm­ers’ fires bil­low into the city and mix with in­dus­trial and traf­fic emis­sions to form a nox­ious cock­tail.

On Wed­nes­day night Del­hites largely de­fied a court or­der and set off an im­mense bar­rage of smoke-spew­ing fire­crack­ers to cel­e­brate the ma­jor Hindu fes­ti­val of Di­wali, send­ing pol­lu­tion lev­els soar­ing.

560 eye flash­point tem­ple en­try:

A new stand­off be­tween Hindu tra­di­tion­al­ists and In­dian po­lice over a flash­point shrine is loom­ing next week, with 560 women re­port­edly reg­is­ter­ing to visit the side when it re­opens on Nov 17.

In­dia’s Supreme Court in Septem­ber ruled that all fe­males should be al­lowed into the Sabari­mala hill­top tem­ple in the south­ern state of Ker­ala, and not just those un­der 10 or over 50 as be­fore.

But when the tem­ple re­opened in mid-Oc­to­ber, a hand­ful of women who wanted to go were pre­vented by hard­lin­ers, who also threw stones at po­lice and as­saulted jour­nal­ists.

Po­lice later de­tained around 2,000 peo­ple. The protesters’ anger re­flected an old but still preva­lent view in some ar­eas of In­dia that con­nects men­stru­a­tion with im­pu­rity.

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