Legal challenge as Sri Lankan political turmoil deepens

Mahinda Rajapaksa Short Of'Magic Number To Prove Majority Spokesperson

Sri Lankan Parliament dissolved as Mahinda Rajapaksa fails to garner majority before November 14

"The election is likely to be held in early January", the minister said.

State television network Rupavahini announced on Friday that Sirisena signed a notification announcing the dissolution of Parliament effective at midnight Friday.

The incoming head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee warned Sirisena he was jeopardizing United States assistance including a package under discussion through the Millennium Challenge Cooperation, which supports countries that observe democratic norms.

Ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party will challenge in court what it termed as the illegal dissolution of Parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena a day after he announced a snap election in January.

The president later called snap polls on Jan 5.

Dayasiri Jayasekara, a cabinet minister, has expressed his support for Sirisena's decision to dissolve the legislature.

"The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament", said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at US -based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

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At the same time, the sources claimed that Brussels isn't sure whether Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet approves of her plans. Speaking of his brother, Jo Johnson acknowledged that the Brexit negotiations "have at least united us in fraternal dismay".

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.

Sirisena was also critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009.

Sri Lanka's largest party announced Saturday a legal challenge to President Maithripala Sirisena's sacking of parliament, a move that has plunged the Indian Ocean island nation into fresh turmoil and alarmed the worldwide community. "Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper".

"The party will be pursuing the intervention of the courts to ensure the rule of law and the Constitution is protected against autocratic moves", a UNP statement said.

"Any further delay could damage Sri Lanka's global reputation and deter investors", the statement said. The only other legal ways would be through a referendum, or with the consent of two thirds of lawmakers.

"We fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country's democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years", the three lawmakers said in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

President Maithripala Sirisena, who two weeks ago sparked a crisis by sacking the prime minister and installing former authoritarian leader Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, signed a decree for elections to be held 5 January, almost two years ahead of schedule.

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