Sri Lanka on the brink after 'tyrant' president dissolves parliament

Mahinda Rajapaksa Short Of'Magic Number To Prove Majority Spokesperson

He had informed a group of former United National Party (UNP) parliamentarians yesterday that he will abide by the Gazette notice issued by the President and act accordingly.

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

The 225-seat parliament, which had already been suspended in the political chaos, was dissolved at midnight Friday with a vote scheduled for january 5 and a new parliament set to reconvene on january 17.

"At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis".

Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. Wickremesinghe, who called his sudden dismissal illegal, has urged Parliament to convene immediately to prove his majority in the 225-member unicameral chamber. "We believe this action undermines Sri Lanka's long democratic tradition and poses a risk to its stability and prosperity", the country's foreign minister, Marise Payne, said.

However, a rift developed over policy towards China and India - Mr Wickremesinghe has favoured Indian investment as a counter to Chinese inroads in Sri Lankan infrastructure projects - and over Mr Sirisena's intention to contest the 2020 presidential election under Mr Wickremesinghe's party.

Independent legal experts said parliament could be dissolved only after four-and-half-years from the date of the Aug 2015 parliamentary election, either through a referendum, or with the consent of two-third of lawmakers.

Samaraweera claimed Sirisena "kicked the Constitution in the teeth" when he dissolved Parliament. "The amendment will have been negated if this absurd argument is allowed to succeed".

Referring to remarks by Sirisena loyalist Sarath Amunugama, Jayasuriya said, "I lament that the purported foreign minister, a highly regarded politician, has falsely alleged that I meant to prevent the president from delivering the statement of government policy when parliament was set to reconvene on November 14". Sirisena also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied. On November 2, the president lifted the suspension of Parliament and said Parliament would reconvene on November 14.

"It's totally unconstitutional", said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe's United National Party and a former government minister. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper". "We will fight in the courts, we will fight in parliament and we will fight at the polls".

The island nation plunged into a constitutional crisis following the move. "We will demonstrate to the public of Sri Lanka our majority", he said.

Sirisena's sweeping decisions took place Friday via a decree signed just hours after his Sri Lanka Freedom Party's coalition announced it did not have enough votes to support the leader's preferred candidate for the position of prime minister.

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