Sri Lankan president dissolves parliament, calls polls on Jan 5

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night and called a general election for January 5 in a move that will likely deepen the country's political crisis.

Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly with effect from midnight, clearing the way for a snap election almost two years ahead of schedule.

Following the sacking, the president suspended parliament in a move which Wickremesinghe said was meant to prevent the ousted prime minister from contesting the decision in the legislature.

The notice will become official once it's published, and it is required to include dates for nominations for fresh elections.

Ranil Wickremasinghe who was sacked as PM on Oct 26 but refused to step down is a also contender for Presidents post in the next polls and therefore Sirisena saw him as a friend turning rival.

Wickremesinghe is holed up in his official residence refusing to go, saying his removal would be illegal, while Rajapakse is running a parallel administration from the prime minister's office.

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

"He has robbed the people of their rights and the democracy that we have enjoyed", the UNP said.


Under pressure from the local as well as worldwide organizations including the United Nations, European Union and Western governments, the President made a decision to reconvene the parliament on November 14, just two days ahead of the scheduled date. Previously, Sirisena's party admitted to not having the votes to confirm ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. "The best thing to do now is go for an election".

It was not immediately clear how Sirisena can legally dissolve parliament, though his legal experts have said there are provisions for him to do so. Several legislators have said they were offered millions of dollars to switch allegiance and at least eight have already jumped to the president's side.

Before he signed the papers dissolving parliament and calling the election, Sirisena appointed allies of his and of Rajapaksa to cabinet positions.

The EU said on Friday, before the dissolution, that the crisis had scarred the Indian Ocean island's worldwide reputation.

"Any further delay could damage Sri Lanka's global reputation and deter investors", the statement said.

Wickremesinghe late Thursday thanked his supporters and urged them not to give up.

"You have not let this country be plunged into the darkness of dictatorship".

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