Sri Lanka President dissolves Parliament


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.

Referring to remarks by Sirisena loyalist Sarath Amunugama, Jayasuriya said, "I lament that the purported foreign minister, a highly regarded politician, has falsely alleged that I meant to prevent the president from delivering the statement of government policy when parliament was set to reconvene on November 14".

Sirisena attempted to install Sri Lanka's former strongman president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister.

Both men say they command a majority in Parliament and had been expected to face the 225-member house this coming Wednesday. Jayasuriya had said he can't recognize Rajapaksa until he demonstrates a majority in the legislature, and lawmakers wanted a vote on Sirisena's decision to fire Wickremesinghe.

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told The Associated Press on Saturday that the president dissolved Parliament due to the need to go to the people to find a resolution to the crisis.

Sri Lanka's Parliament stands dissolved some 21 months ahead of its schedule in August 2020, amid a worsening Constitutional crisis triggered by the surprise sacking of Wickremesinghe.

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". Sirisena also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

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"A desperate president without a majority, now resorts to more desperate measures by illegally dissolving parliament", Samaraweera said. Later, owing to domestic and worldwide pressure, he issued a notice to reconvene parliament on November 14.

Meanwhile, three political parties intend to challenge the dissolution of parliament as a violation of the constitution. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper".

The move drew strong global condemnation for deepening a constitutional crisis and stalled about $2 billion worth of projects and grants. "We will be fighting this to ensure that democracy reigns supreme in the country".

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

Rajapaksa and 44 former lawmakers of the Sirisena-led centre-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on Sunday joined Sri Lanka Podujana Peremuna (SLPP), a political party formed in 2016 by Rajapaksa's younger brother Basil, a former economy minister.

The US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, an agency within the State Department, stated on Twitter: "The US is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, further deepening the political crisis".

Rajapaksa indicated what was coming hours before the dissolution in a speech.