Published: Mon, November 12, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Sri Lanka's president dissolves parliament, deepening political crisis

Sri Lanka's president dissolves parliament, deepening political crisis

COLOMBO, SRI LANKA-Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved Parliament and called for fresh elections amid a deepening political crisis.

A government minister speaking on condition of anonymity, said the official notification dissolving parliament took effect from midnight Friday.

They vowed on Saturday, "We will fight in the courts, we will fight in parliament and we will fight at the polls".

Former finance minister and UNP leader Mangala Samaraweera said, "the emerging tyranny of Maithripala Sirisena will be fought in courts, in parliament and at the election".

Sri Lanka's former President and Prime Minister of caretaker government Mahinda Rajapaksa has left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and obtained the membership in the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).

Sirisena dissolved Parliament after his attempts to secure the backing of 113 members in the 225-member Parliament failed. Sirisena said he had to fire Wickremesinghe for mismanaging the economy and because of a cabinet minister's alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Sirisena.

Worldwide concern has grown over the mounting turmoil, with Wickremesinghe refusing to leave the premier's official residence while the president also suspended parliament to head off any revolt against his action.

The speaker of Sri Lanka's parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, has warned the country could descend into political violence if the legislature remained suspended.

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The United National Party, the northern-based Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) will challenge the dissolution, what Samaraweera termed as "tyranny" and "hitting the constitution in its teeth".

Former Speaker V.J.M. Lokubandara when contacted by the Sunday Observer said that once Parliament is dissolved, there was nothing else to do than go for elections.

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.

In a situation that has developed into a full-blown political crisis for the South Asian island nation, Wickremesinghe has refused to leave his position since being expelled by Sirisena on October 26.

"A general election will truly establish the will of the people and make way for a stable country", Rajapaksa said in a post on Twitter late on Friday.

Sri Lanka's Election Commission was quoted in some local media as saying that it will seek a Supreme Court opinion before conducting the election.

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news that the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, "further deepening the political crisis".

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne expressed both concern and disappointment in a statement, saying the move "undermines Sri Lanka's long democratic tradition and poses a risk to its stability and prosperity".

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