Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Parliament late on Friday amid a political crisis in the country. He called for snap polls on January 5, soon after his coalition reportedly said that it could not get enough votes in support of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was sworn in as Prime Minister.
Sirisena signed an official gazette notification dissolving the 225-member Parliament, effective from Saturday. It added that a new legislature will meet on January 17, according to Al Jazeera. The government’s term was supposed to end in August 2020.
Sri Lanka has been facing political turmoil since October 26, when President Sirisena dissolved the cabinet and sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and appointed former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post. Wickremesinghe, who called his sudden dismissal illegal, has urged Parliament to convene immediately to prove his majority in the 225-member unicameral chamber. President Sirisena then suspended Parliament until November 14.
Following the Parliament’s dissolution on Friday, the United National Party – of which Ranil Wickremesinghe is the leader – vehemently rejected the move, and said that it was illegal.
“This dissolution by the President is illegal and goes against the constitution. We will be fighting this to ensure that Democracy reigns supreme in the country,” the party said on Twitter.
Former Sri Lankan president and the man who was sworn in as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa supported the dissolution, and said, “As leaders, it is our responsibility and obligation to give the people the opportunity to voice their opinions on the future of #SriLanka. A general election will truly establish the will of the people and make way for a stable country.”
Prior to the dissolution, a spokesperson of the United People's Freedom Alliance, of which Sirisena is the head, told reporters that they have the support of “104 or 105 MPs”, but said that they would show a majority of 113 or more on the floor of parliament. 96 MPs had supported the party before the crisis.
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. This is what the people also want," he told the news portal.
With IANS inputs