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Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament

10 November 2018

The United National Party (UNP) said that the decision taken by President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve Parliament was illegal but the party will still face the election.

President Maithripala Sirisena signed a decree dismissing the island's 225-member assembly and scheduled parliamentary elections for January 5, almost two years ahead of schedule. The election timetable was accompanied by an official notice dismissing the nation's 225-member assembly with effect from midnight.

However, the UNP - whose numbers declined from 106 to 98 amid defections - gained an edge when the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of 15 legislators representing the country's ethnic Tamil minority, said it would back a motion to oust newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. 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.

"We will definitely challenge this in the Supreme Court, that the president is violating the constitution", said Harsha De Silva, who was state minister of economic affairs under Wickremesinghe's government.

"The election is likely to be held in early January", the minister said.

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The United States voiced concern Friday after Sri Lanka's president ordered snap elections, as lawmakers warned that USA aid was in question.

"No, no there won't be a dissolution of parliament or a referendum", Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa, the general secretary of President Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, told the party's central committee meeting on Thursday.

"At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs", UPFA spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, adding that the Sirisena-Rajapaksa group hoped to secure support from "crossover" legislators. The UPFA is eight legislators short of a majority in the Parliament.

The EU, in a joint statement with Norway and Switzerland, called for parliament to reconvene and hold an immediate vote. "For this inspiring effort, I want to thank everyone who has risen to fight for democracy and justice".

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

Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament