Sri Lankan President suspends Parliament amidst political crisis

Colombo: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Saturday suspended Parliament till November amid a political crisis which erupted after he sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Presidential Secretariat said Sirisena had instructed to prorogue Parliament till November 16 and a gazette notification had been issued, the Daily Mirror reported.

Sirisena on Friday night sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former President Rajapaksa to the post. He made the surprising move after his United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) withdrew from the national coalition government.

The coalition government consisted of the UPFA and the United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremesinghe.

Sirisena said he had acted under Article 42 (4) of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which said that the President “shall appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament, who, in the President’s opinion, is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament”.

However, Wickremesinghe and his party called the President’s decision “illegal” and urged Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to convene Parliament immediately to prove he still retained his parliamentary majority.

“I urge to convene Parliament without leading the country into chaos. It is not necessary to create crisis in the country. Let the Parliament decide who should be the Prime Minister,” he said.

Wickremesinghe said that Sirisena’s decision to suspend Parliament showed that he and Rajapaksa lacked a majority in Parliament.

Rajapaksa’s party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, however claimed that they had secured a majority in the 225-member Parliament and would prove their numbers when Parliament convenes.

The Speaker in a statement urged for calm from all political leaders and the public and said they would resolve the current political impasse in a democratic manner in accordance with the Constitution.

Sri Lankan Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera and State Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs Harsha de Silva described Sirisena’s action as illegal and in violation of the Constitution, the Island reported.

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