In yet another surprise move, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to dissolve the Parliament and call for elections on fifth of January. As per the gazette notification issued late night, the parliament stands dissolved from Friday night and nominations for general elections will begin this month. Parliament term was to expire in August 2020 and early elections has been called almost twenty months before it was due.
The move comes exactly two weeks after the President has appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as new Prime minister replacing Mr. Ranil Wickremsinghe. United National Party (UNP) led by Mr. Wickremsinghe termed the dissolution as illegal and vowed to fight back. The party said they will meet the elections commission to discuss the next move. Chairman of Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya has said they cannot hold the elections without the opinion of Supreme Court.
Earlier, President sworn in ministers to the remaining cabinet posts late evening before announcing the dissolution. President has prorogued parliament till the 16th of November but preponed it for 14th after mounting pressure from speaker and western nations. Parliament was to convene on Wednesday and speaker Karu Jaysurya and group led by ousted Prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe had demanded that parliament vote to decide upon majority on the first day itself.
Meanwhile, a government spokesman had said the new government still needed at least eight more votes in the 225 member assembly to reach the required 113 for the majority. As per the 19th amendment to the constitution, President was not empowered to dissolve the parliament till completion of four and half years of its term or till two-thirds of the house recommended for dissolution.
The last Parliamentary elections were held in August 2015 which did not give the clear majority to either of two main parties. However, both parties of Sirisena and Wickremesinghe had come together to form a national unity government which broke down on 26th of last month leading to the crisis.