Sri Lanka Prez dissolves Parliament; polls in August

RSTV Bureau

sirisenaSri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday dissolved the parliament, paving the way for fresh parliamentary elections in mid August, eight months ahead of the schedule. The Lankan President signed the relevant gazette notification and sent to the Government Printer notifying fresh elections.

The dissolution of the 225-member house was long awaited and after Friday’s development, the polls will be held in mid August, which were originally to be held in April 2016.

According to the officials President Sirisena had promised to dissolve the parliament on April 23 of this year at the conclusion of 100 days of his new government.

Sirisena had appointed a minority government headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe after defeating Mahinda Rajapaksa in the January presidential election. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) was opting for early polls having backed Sirisena against Rajapaksa.

The President held the decision back to implement his reforms both constitutional and electoral.

Although the constitutional reform in the form of 19th Amendment was approved in late April, the electoral reforms or the 20A ran into a snag as political parties failed to reach consensus on the ideal system of elections to replace the current proportional representation system. President Sirisena’s reform bid was scuttled by a group of Rajapaksha loyalists who wanted one of them to be named prime minister over Wickremesinghe.

Sirisena, faced with international support for his reconciliation with the Tamil minority, had promised the US and the international community that a new government would be in place by September.

Maithripala Sirisena had defeated the incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa in presidential elections held in January this year.

(With inputs from the PTI)