Saturday, 19 Jan 2019

Sri Lanka president dissolves Parliament, calls for election

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

An official notification signed by Sirisena announced the dissolution of Parliament effective midnight Friday. It said the names of candidates will be called before Nov. 26, and the election held on Jan. 5. The new Parliament is to be convened on Jan. 17.

Sri Lanka has been in a political crisis since Oct. 26, when Sirisena fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. He has refused to vacate his official residence and asks that Parliament be summoned immediately to prove his support among its members.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the President did not approve of the Prime Minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to murder him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sirisena was also criticized in the case of Sri Lanka's long-standing civil war against Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009.

Wickremesinghe's backers have been suspended for a long time. There were both local and international calls to Parliament to end the impasse.

Amid the pressure, Sirisena announced the legislature would be summoned Nov. 14. He maintained his choice for prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had a majority in Parliament. However, the decision to dissolve the house shows otherwise, observers say.

"The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might have in the Parliament," said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at the New Delhi-based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

"At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis."

Wickremesinghe's camp is likely to be contested. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

"It's totally unconstitutional," said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe's United National Party and a former minister. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper. We will fight this dictator to the end. "

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena's move.

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

"As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe in democratic institutions and processes of accountability and prosperity," the statement said.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote about how to circumvent the democratic process of the United States. millions of dollars.

"We fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will be brought to bear on the country by the author," the three lawmakers said in a letter, "The Associated Press.

Rajapaksa indicated what was coming hours before the dissolution in a speech. He said the government must go to the people for confirmation on whether the president made the correct decision when he appointed him prime minister.


Associated Press writer Emily Schmall in New Delhi, India, and Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


%d bloggers like this: