Published: Sat, November 10, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament

Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament

Sirisena had suspended the assembly's work until mid-November when first moving against his prime minister.

Sri Lanka will hold a snap election in January, the country's president announced late November 9, hours after dissolving parliament when it became clear his prime minister nominee did not have a majority.

Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly and setting the stage for snap elections two years ahead of schedule, AFP reported.

The incoming head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee warned Sirisena he was jeopardizing U.S. assistance including a package under discussion through the Millennium Challenge Cooperation, which supports countries that observe democratic norms.

The dissolution comes after an intense power struggle in the past two weeks which followed Sirisena's sudden sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman, in his place.

The president later called snap polls on Jan 5.

Given those views, it was not immediately clear how Sirisena is on legal safe ground by dissolving parliament, though his legal experts have said there are provisions for him to do so.

Wickremesinghe has refused to vacate the official prime minister's residence saying he is the prime minister and had a parliamentary majority. "At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis". Sirisena also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sri Lanka's largest party announced Saturday a legal challenge to President Maithripala Sirisena's sacking of parliament, a move that has plunged the Indian Ocean island nation into fresh turmoil and alarmed the global community. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

However, the UNP - whose numbers declined from 106 to 98 amid defections - gained an edge when the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of 15 legislators representing the country's ethnic Tamil minority, said it would back a motion to oust newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"As a friend of Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes", Field said.

"We will demonstrate to the public of Sri Lanka our majority".

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote to Sirisena warning that actions circumventing the democratic process could impact U.S. assistance - including a planned five-year aid package from the Millennium Challenge Corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. "We will be fighting this to ensure that Democracy reigns supreme in the country", the party said on Twitter.

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