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Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena says parliament was dissolved to prevent unrest

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena says parliament was dissolved to prevent unrest

Sri Lanka's state media says President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved Parliament amid a deep political crisis.

He said in a statement that a new parliament will be convened on January 17, after a general election is held on January 5.

Referring to remarks by Sirisena loyalist Sarath Amunugama, Jayasuriya said, "I lament that the purported foreign minister, a highly regarded politician, has falsely alleged that I meant to prevent the president from delivering the statement of government policy when parliament was set to reconvene on November 14".

Sri Lanka has been facing political turmoil since October 26, when President Sirisena dissolved the cabinet and sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and appointed former president Mahinda Rajapaksa to the post.

Sirisena suspended Parliament for two weeks in a move Wickremesinghe's backers said was created to buy time to shore up support.

Jayasuriya, earlier, accused Sirisena of "usurping" the rights of legislators.

Following the unprecedented decision, Wickremesinghe refused to accept the move and sought a vote in the Parliament to prove his majority, however, Parliament was suspended and was scheduled to reconvene, it was dissolved on Friday by Sirisena.

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Given those views, it was not immediately clear how Sirisena is on legal safe ground by dissolving parliament, though his legal experts have said there are provisions for him to do so.

Sri Lanka's former strongman and current Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has left his longtime political party and joined another in a move that could weaken the country's president. Rajapaksa, who ruled as president from 2005 to 2015, is considered a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict.

Amid mounting local and global pressure, he announced that he will reconvene parliament November 14 and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he was going to call for a vote on that day itself to see whether Rajapaksa, commanded enough support.

"This is a gross violation of the constitution", Harsha De Silva, a lawmaker in Wickremesinghe's party, told Reuters in reference to the dissolution of parliament. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper".

"We appeal to everyone to get together to safeguard democratic rights and the basic law of the country", he said adding they would take part in a broader alliance to fight the "injustice" at the election.

The U.S State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, "further deepening the political crisis".

Sirisena's sweeping decisions took place Friday via a decree signed just hours after his Sri Lanka Freedom Party's coalition announced it did not have enough votes to support the leader's preferred candidate for the position of prime minister. "We will be fighting this to ensure that Democracy reigns supreme in the country", the party said on Twitter.