Sirisena dissolves Sri Lanka Parliament, polls on Jan. 5

Evading a resolution to Sri Lanka’s political crisis through Parliament, President Maithripala Sirisena late on Friday dissolved the House. The move came just hours after his political front admitted to lacking the majority needed for its controversially-installed Prime Minister to be declared legitimate. Mr. Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly with effect from midnight, clearing the way for a snap election nearly two years ahead of schedule, AFP reported. Political crisis The development comes a fortnight after Sri Lanka plunged into a political crisis that many hoped would be addressed through a floor test in Parliament. However, days before the Parliament — earlier suspended — was scheduled to reconvene, Mr. Sirisena announced its dissolution. Since October 26, Sri Lanka has been facing an unprecedented power struggle with two rival prime ministers claiming legitimacy. Embroiled in a conflict with his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, with whom he joined hands to form government in 2015, Mr. Sirisena sacked him abruptly, and instead appointed former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Trust vote sought The move drew considerable domestic and international criticism for its apparent defiance of the Constitution. Deposed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe refused to accept the decision and sought a vote in the House to test their competing claims to majority. Shortly after, Mr. Sirisena prorogued Parliament for about a fortnight, possibly to muster strength, but as of Friday, the Sirisena-Rajapaksa group had 104 MPs, nine short of the 113-mark required to prove majority in the 225-member House. Depending on defectors Addressing a press conference earlier in the day at the Prime Minister’s office, spokesman for the Sirisena-Rajapaksa front, Keheliya Rambukwella, said, “We have about 105 now,” eight lawmakers short of the 113-mark needed to prove majority. Mr. Rambukwella’s remark, the first public admission of the “new government” of lacking majority, came days after President Sirisena told a party rally “we have the majority”. Asked how they hoped to command confidence, when all the members currently in their United People’s Freedom Alliance-led front had already been counted, Mr. Rambukwella said they were “relying on cross-overs”, which were “very common”.

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