Published: Sat, December 15, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Lankan court rules parliament dissolution illegal - Newspaper

Lankan court rules parliament dissolution illegal - Newspaper

The verdict is a major blow to Maithripala Sirisena, seven weeks into a political crisis in the Indian Ocean island nation that has sparked alarm overseas and concern over its finances.

Sirisena, after sacking Wickremesinghe, dissolved Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.

The Supreme Court on November 13 had issued an interim order ruling Sirisena's gazette notification as temporarily illegal and halted the preparations for snap polls.

Sri Lanka is going through a major political crisis since October 26 when President Sirisena, in a controversial move, removed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.

If the ruling goes against Sirisena it would put the president in a hard situation given his public statement that he would not restore the pre-October 26 position by reappointing Wickremesinghe.

A spokesman for Sirisena did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

"Even though we do not agree with this decision, there is no other court we can go to", he said.

Mr. Rajapaksa has since lost two confidence votes in Parliament, but has refused to accept them citing "breach of parliamentary procedure".

Supporters of his United National Party (UNP) celebrated the verdict, lighting firecrackers outside the Supreme Court complex.

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In a Twitter post, the sacked leader said he hoped Sirisena will "promptly respect the judgement of the courts". Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed as the prime minister by Sirisena after sacking Wickremesinghe, also attended the meeting, Colombo Page reported.

The verdict also declared that the notice of dissolution announced in the government gazette was null and void and that the Parliament could not be dissolved until four and half years from the last general elections.

As many as 13 petitions have been filed against Sirisena's November 9 order sacking the 225-member Parliament, nearly 20 months before its term was to end.The Supreme Court on November 13 had issued an interim order ruling Sirisena's gazette notification as temporarily illegal and halted the preparations for snap polls.

The bitter power struggle, which Mr. Sirisena maintains is "nothing personal", has left the country without a legitimate government for weeks.

Members of Wickremesinghe's party and their allies voted 117-0 asking Sirisena to reverse his October 26 dismissal of his former ally.

Sirisena has said that Wickremesinghe is a stubborn, headstrong person who was following far right wing neo-liberal policies.

Courts have prevented Rajapakse and his disputed cabinet exercising the powers they claim until they can prove their legitimacy.

Officials have expressed similar fears and urged Sirisena to resolve the crisis urgently.

Mr. Sirisena's refusal to work with Mr. Wickremesinghe is at the heart of the political crisis gripping Sri Lanka for seven weeks now.

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