Sunday, 17 February, 2019


United States and others denounce dissolution of Sri Lanka parliament as undemocratic

Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President
Bennie Garza | 10 November, 2018, 14:45

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.

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

"This dissolution by the President is illegal and goes against the constitution", the UNP said on Twitter.

The 225-seat parliament will end at midnight Friday and a new one will meet January 17 after a vote January 5, according to a presidential announcement.

"We fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country's democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years", the three lawmakers said in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field said that he was concerned by news that Sri Lanka's Parliament has been dissolved days before it was due to be reconvened.

However, earlier Friday, Keheliya Rambukwella spokesperson for the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) -led de facto government acknowledged that the party remained short of the 113 MPs needed to prove majority in the 225-member parliament. 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.

The leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP), which regards the sacking of Wickremesinghe as unconstitutional, accused Sirisena of trying to consolidate his power grab.

Wickremesinghe has refused to vacate the official prime minister's residence saying he is the prime minister and had a parliamentary majority.

Under pressure from the local as well as worldwide 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.

"Dissolving parliament at this time is illegal and goes against the constitution", JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva told reporters.

Under pressure from the United Nations, the USA and the European Union to allow a parliamentary vote, Sirisena agreed three times to lift the suspension but changed his mind each time.

The EU said Friday, before the dissolution, that the crisis had scarred the Indian Ocean island's worldwide reputation.

"This further political uncertainty is corrosive to Sri Lanka's democratic future and its commitments on reconciliation and accountability", it said.

Wickremesinghe had late Thursday thanked his supporters in a Facebook video for not letting Sri Lanka be "plunged into the darkness of dictatorship". It said democracy needed to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity.

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