Sri Lankan president dissolves parliament before elections

Maithripala Sirisena dissolves parliament 160 days after assuming office to push through political reforms ahead of planned August election

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The Sri Lankan President dissolved his country’s parliament on Friday, 160 days after assuming office.

President Maithripala Sirisena also announced that parliamentary elections will be held on August 17 and the new lawmakers are scheduled to meet on September 1.

The decision has been seen as Sirisena's effort to consolidate power and push through political reforms he had promised, including limits on the powers of the executive presidency.

He promised to dissolve the parliament 100 days after his victory in January but delayed the date because of problems and defections in his own party.

Sirisena was a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which holds the majority in the current Parliament, but was nominated by the opposition United National Party (UNP) as a presidential candidate against former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Sirisena, a health minister in Rajapaksa's government, alleged that Rajapaksa abused power and promised to abolish the executive powers of the presidency.

The planned elections will be held just before the release of a UN report on human rights abuses against Tamils during the final phase of the civil war that plagued the country.

About 300,000 people were displaced in 2009 and many remain in poverty without proper housing and under constant military surveillance. Relatives are still looking for those who surrendered to the military in the final days of the fighting.

Analysts say Sirisena's predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa will stage a comeback as prime minister after the UN report because Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community support him.


TRTWorld and agencies