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.