Sri Lanka President Says Parliament Sacked To "Prevent Civil Unrest"

Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President
Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President

12 November, 2018

Mr Sirisena dissolved Parliament on Friday night and called a general election for January 5 in a move that has drawn worldwide criticism as it is likely to deepen the country's political crisis.

New elections are likely to be held in early January, almost two years earlier than originally planned, a government minister told the AFP news agency.

The dissolution is the latest twist in a constitutional crisis that began October 26 when Sirisena unexpectedly fired Wickremesinghe, who served since 2015 as prime minister in a unity government with the president.

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

Shortly before sacking the legislature, Sirisena also took over the police department by attaching it to his defence ministry.

Following the unprecedented decision, Wickremesinghe refused to accept the move and sought a vote in the Parliament to prove his majority, however, Parliament was suspended and was scheduled to reconvene, it was dissolved on Friday by Sirisena.

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.

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Mark Field, the British minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, said: "As a friend of Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes". Sirisena also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sirisena's decision also drew sharp criticism from various global politicians and agencies, with many expressing "deep concern".

The leader of Pivithuru Hela Urumaya Udaya Gammanpila earlier in the day said the President can exercise power vested with him under article 33 (2) c of the constitution to dissolve the Parliament. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

"We are prepared to go for an election, but this is illegal", said Harsha De Silva, who was state minister of economic affairs under Wickremesinghe's government. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper".

The island nation plunged into a constitutional crisis following the move. "We will be fighting this to ensure that Democracy reigns supreme in the country", the party said on Twitter.

"As a friend of Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes", Field said.

"It appeared to me that, if I allowed the Parliament to be convened on the 14th, without dissolving it, it could have brought about commotion and fights in every city and every village would lead to very unpleasant and hard situation for the average citizens of my beloved country", he said. Dinesh Gunawardena, a newly appointed urban development minister, said the president had handed the country back to the people.

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