Sirisena calls snap elections in Sri Lanka
“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity,” it said.
Australia’s foreign minister expressed concern and said Sirisena’s action “undermines Sri Lanka’s long democratic tradition and poses a risk to its stability and prosperity”.
Just before sacking the parliament, Sirisena also inducted more ministers into his cabinet. The move was seen as giving them access to state resources in the run up to the January vote.
The leftist People’s Liberation Front (JVP), which regards the sacking of Wickremesinghe as unconstitutional, accused Sirisena of trying to consolidate his power grab.
“Dissolving parliament at this time is illegal and goes against the constitution,” JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva told reporters.
Sirisena suspended parliament to give himself more time to engineer defections but failed, according to the opposition.
Several legislators have said they were offered millions of dollars to switch allegiance and at least eight had already jumped to the president’s side.
Under international pressure Sirisena had agreed three times to lift the suspension but changed his mind each time.
Wickremesinghe had late on Thursday thanked his supporters in a Facebook video for not letting Sri Lanka be “plunged into the darkness of dictatorship”.
It was not immediately clear if he would vacate the official Temple Trees residence following the dissolution of parliament.
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.
DESPERATE MOVE: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena signed a decree dismissing the legislature in a bid to head off any revolt against his actions which included suspending parliament for nearly three weeks.