US, UK raise concerns on dissolving Parliament in Sri Lanka

Postado Novembro 10, 2018

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 signed the proclamation to dissolve the Parliament from Friday midnight. He called for snap polls on January 5, soon after his coalition reportedly said that it could not get enough votes in support of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was sworn in as Prime Minister.

The dissolution comes after an intense power struggle in the past two weeks which followed Sirisena's sudden sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman, in his place.

On Sunday, the president called for parliament to reconvene November 14 amid increasing global pressure to resolve the crisis. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Following the Parliament's dissolution on Friday, the United National Party - of which Ranil Wickremesinghe is the leader - vehemently rejected the move, and said that it was illegal.

Under pressure from the local as well as global organizations including the United Nations, European Union and Western governments, the President chose to reconvene the parliament on November 14, just two days ahead of the scheduled date.

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

"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.

"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. Wickramasinghe disputes the president's authority to fire him and has refused to leave the prime ministerial residence.

"The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament", said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at New Delhi-based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center. "This is what the people also want", he told the news portal. At least eight have switched sides, but at least 120 deputies in the 225-seat parliament remain loyal to Wickramasinghe.