Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Sri Lanka president dissolves parliament in bid to end power struggle

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena
Steven Clarke | 10 November, 2018, 10:42

State television network Rupavahini announced on Friday that Sirisena signed a notification announcing the dissolution of Parliament effective at midnight Friday.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Friday dissolved parliament, paving the way for an early general election in the country which is grappling with unprecedented political crisis after the surprise sacking of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa. Later, the president said he had to fire Wickramasinghe because one of his ministers was involved in a "plot to assassinate" the head of state himself.

According to the relevant Gazette, the fifth day of January 2019 has been fixed as the date for the election of the Members of Parliament. Wickramasinghe disputes the president's authority to fire him and has refused to leave the prime ministerial residence.

Mr Piyadasa was scotching rumours that Sirisena may opt for a snap poll with a dissolution of parliament well ahead of its August 2020 term expiry.

There was no immediate comment from Wickremesinghe, but his United National Party (UNP) said it will challenge Sirisena's sacking of the legislature.

The dissolution of parliament after failing to secure enough support from opposition parties clears the way for a snap election almost two years ahead of schedule.

Man wearing Crocs injured after breaking into crocodile enclosure in Florida
Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park said a man broke into the property and then jumped into a pool full of crocodiles. Police said Hatfield "damaged numerous exhibits and statues around the complex", causing more than $5,000 in damage.

"Unfortunately, we fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country's democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years", said the letter to Sirisena.

Sirisena signed a decree dismissing the island's 225-member assembly just hours after his party admitted it did not have enough votes to support former president Mahinda Rajapakse against rival claimant Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Amid rumours that Sirisena may seek to delay matters further, the European Union, in a joint statement with Norway and Switzerland, said that parliament should vote "immediately when reconvened".

"At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs", UPFA spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, adding that the Sirisena-Rajapaksa group hoped to secure support from "crossover" legislators.

Cabinet Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara told Al Jazeera that the president was acting well within his constitutional rights. "The best thing to do now is go for an election".

Sirisena has said he fired Wickremesinghe because the prime minister was trying to implement "a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people's sentiment".

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