European Union demands end to Sri Lanka crisis

10 November, 2018, 10:42 | Author: Sheila Harris
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According to the relevant Gazette, the fifth day of January 2019 has been fixed as the date for the election of the Members of Parliament.

Sri Lanka's president, Maithripala Sirisena, has dissolved the country's parliament in a gamble that a new election will secure backing for his preferred candidate as prime minister over an ousted premier who has refused to leave.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who two weeks ago sparked a crisis by sacking the prime minister and installing former authoritarian leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, signed a decree for elections to be held 5 January, almost two years ahead of schedule.

President Sirisena has failed to persuade the parliament to support his ouster of his one-time ally Wickramasinghe.

"This is a gross violation of the constitution", Harsha De Silva, a lawmaker in Wickremesinghe's party, said in reference to the dissolution of parliament. "We are prepared to go for an election, but this is illegal".

"Unfortunately, we fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country's democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years", said the letter to Sirisena. 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.

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"At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs", UPFA's spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, adding that the Sirisena-Rajapakse group hoped to secure support from "crossover" legislators. Wickremesinghe, who called his sudden dismissal illegal, has urged Parliament to convene immediately to prove his majority in the 225-member unicameral chamber. The party also accused Sirisena of robbing the "people of their rights and democracy".

Later Sirisena agreed to reconvene parliament on November 14, but that will now not happen.

The admission, which came despite Sirisena's earlier claim that he had the support of 113 legislators when he sacked Wickremesinghe, had fuelled speculation that he would go for snap elections.

While the President's legal team has invoked Article 33 (2) c of the Constitution, which gives power to the President to prorogue, summon and dissolve Parliament.

Sirisena has said he fired Wickremesinghe because the prime minister was trying to implement "a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people's sentiment". 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.

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