Sri Lanka pres­i­dent calls for snap polls

Manila Times - - World -

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka plunged deeper into cri­sis Satur­day af­ter Pres­i­dent Maithri­pala Sirisena called a snap elec­tion, leav­ing the coun­try fac­ing a fur­ther two months of dam­ag­ing po­lit­i­cal paral­y­sis with a pair of bit­ter ri­vals claim­ing to run his gov­ern­ment.

In what op­po­nents con­demned as an il­le­gal move, Sirisena dis­solved par­lia­ment on Fri­day and an­nounced a Jan­uary elec­tion af­ter it be­came clear his des­ig­nated prime min­is­ter — for­mer pres­i­dent Mahinda Ra­japakse — would not be able to com­mand a

Raka­pakse and ousted pre­mier Ranil Wikremesinghe, who has re­fused to leave his post, have been bat­tling for power for two weeks as in­ter­na­tional con­cern grows over the mount­ing tur­moil in the stra-

Sirisena signed a de­cree dis­miss­ing the is­land’s 225-mem­ber assem­bly and sched­uled par­lia­men­tary elec­tions for Jan­uary 5, nearly

In a bid to head off any re­volt against his ac­tion he also sus-

There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Wick­remesinghe, but

said

it

will chal­lenge

Sirisena’s

“This dis­so­lu­tion by the Pres­i­dent is il­le­gal and goes against the con­sti­tu­tion,” the UNP said on

to en­sure that democ­racy reigns

“He has robbed the peo­ple of their rights and the democ­racy that

Sirisena had come un­der in­creased in­ter­na­tional pres­sure from the United States, the United Na­tions and the Eu­ro­pean Union to al­low par­lia­ment to vote on which prime min­is­ter

Wash­ing­ton

swiftly

crit­i­cized

“The US is deeply con­cerned by news the Sri Lanka par­lia­ment will be dis­solved, fur­ther deep­en­ing the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis,” the US State De­part­ment said in a state­ment

“As a com­mit­ted part­ner of Sri Lanka, we be­lieve demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions and pro­cesses need to be re­spected to en­sure sta­bil­ity and

Sirisena’s United Peo­ple’s Free-

ahead of the pres­i­dent’s stun­ning an­nounce­ment that they had failed to se­cure enough cross-over

By avoid­ing a

test of his ma-

Ra­japakse will re­main care­taker prime min­is­ter un­til elec­tions are con­cluded and a new par­lia­ment

Be­fore sign­ing the or­der sack­ing the par­lia­ment with ef­fect from Fri­day mid­night, Sirisena also in­ducted

“At the mo­ment we have 104 or 105 MPs,” UPFA spokesman Ke­he­liya Ram­buk­wella told re­porters, adding that the Sirisena-Ra­japakse group hoped to se­cure sup­port

The ad­mis­sion, which came de­spite Sirisena’s ear­lier claim that he had the sup­port of 113 leg­is­la­tors when he sacked Wick­remesinghe, had fu­elled spec­u­la­tion that he

The

left­ist Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion

sack­ing of Wick­remesinghe as un­con­sti­tu­tional, ac­cused Sirisena of

“Dis­solv­ing par­lia­ment at this time is il­le­gal and goes against the con­sti­tu­tion,” JVP gen­eral sec­re­tary

Sirisena sus­pended par­lia­ment to give him­self more time to en­gi­neer de­fec­tions, ac­cord-

Sev­eral leg­is­la­tors have said they were of­fered mil­lions of dol­lars to switch al­le­giance and at least eight have al­ready jumped to the

Wick­remesinghe, who

has

res­i­dence since his sack­ing, main­tains that the ac­tion against him was un­con­sti­tu­tional and il­le­gal, and in­sists his group can muster

Un­der pres­sure from the United Na­tions, the United States and the Eu­ro­pean Union to al­low a par­lia­ment vote, Sirisena agreed three times to lift the sus­pen­sion but

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