Court challenge after Sri Lankan president dissolves parliament

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Court challenge after Sri Lankan president dissolves parliament” was written by Michael Safi, for theguardian.com on Saturday 10th November 2018 19.07 Asia/Kolkata

The Sri Lankan president’s decision to dissolve parliament and call snap elections, his latest attempt to blast a political rival from the prime minister’s office, will be challenged in the country’s supreme court.

A political crisis in the Indian ocean nation deepened on Friday night when Maithripala Sirisena announced he was dissolving parliament, which opponents said was an illegal order.

A fortnight ago Sirisena purportedly dismissed the country’s prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. But the attempted switch failed after Rajapaksa’s forces failed to convince enough MPs to join their new coalition – prompting Sirisena to gamble on fresh polls.

The announcement has been condemned by foreign missions in Colombo and labelled unconstitutional by Sirisena’s opponents.

Mangala Samaraweera, the finance minister in Wickremesinghe’s cabinet, said the president had “kicked the constitution in the teeth”.

“We will go to the courts,” Samaraweera said in Colombo. “We will fight in the courts, we will fight in parliament and we will fight at the polls.”

The supreme court challenge will begin on Monday.

Sirisena had appeared to prepare the ground for fresh elections in past days, announcing he had taken over the country’s police department and the state printer, giving him control of the publication of decrees and proclamations.

He also appointed new ministers – giving them access to official resources in the run-up to any vote. If given legal go-ahead, new elections would be held on 5 January.

The US state department condemned the announcement. “The US is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka parliament will be dissolved, further deepening the political crisis,” it said in a statement.

“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity.”

Australia also expressed its “concern and disappointment”. “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.

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Court challenge after Sri Lankan president dissolves parliament - NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE

Rajesh Ahuja

I am a veteran journalist based in Chandigarh India.I joined the profession in June 1982 and worked as a Staff Reporter with the National Herald at Delhi till June 1986. I joined The Hindu at Delhi in 1986 as a Staff Reporter and was promoted as Special Correspondent in 1993 and transferred to Chandigarh. I left The Hindu in September 2012 and launched my own newspaper ventures including this news portal and a weekly newspaper NORTH INDIA KALEIDOSCOPE (currently temporarily suspended).