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Sri Lanka SC to Rule on President Sirisena's Sacking of Parliament, Snap Polls

As many as 13 petitions have been filed against Sirisena's November 9 order sacking the 225-member Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and setting the election date for January 5.

PTI

Updated:December 11, 2018, 8:29 PM IST
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Sri Lanka SC to Rule on President Sirisena's Sacking of Parliament, Snap Polls
File photo of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (Image: Reuters)

Colombo: Sri Lanka is on the edge, ahead of a crucial Supreme Court ruling on President Maithripala Sirisena's controversial sacking of Parliament and call for a snap election that pushed the country into unprecedented political turmoil.

As many as 13 petitions have been filed against Sirisena's November 9 order sacking the 225-member Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and setting the election date for 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. The hearing in the case was concluded last week as the court reserved its judgment.

So far there is no indication as to when the apex court will give its ruling. A senior Sirisena loyalist Wimal Weerawansa said on Monday that the president would ask the Supreme Court through the attorney general to expedite the delivery of the verdict in the case.

"The courts are going on vacation from December 14. So the whole country would want the ruling delivered early," Weerawansa said at a public gathering.

If the ruling goes against Sirisena it would put the president in a difficult situation given his public statement that he would not restore the pre-October 26 position by reappointing Ranil Wickremesinghe whom he ousted as premier and replaced him with ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"If the court decides against the dissolution of Parliament the president will appoint a government comprising of whoever can command the 113 (simple majority)," said Mahinda Samarasinghe, another Sirisena loyalist.

Sirisena sacked Parliament when it appeared that Rajapaksa would not be able to muster the support of 113 MPs. Wickremesinghe on the other hand commands a majority.

Analysts said the Supreme Court ruling would be the first step in the resolution of the ongoing political crisis, the likes of which has never been witnessed in the island nation's history.

Sirisena has said he will accept the Supreme Court's ruling on the petitions filed against his gazette notification dissolving Parliament.

"I look forward to the constitutional interpretation of the Supreme Court. Whatever it may be, I will take future political decisions accordingly, to the best interest of our motherland, not

to the benefit of any person, group or party," the president tweeted on Sunday.

His remarks were apparently aimed at Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP) with whom Sirisena was running the national unity government since 2015.

The partnership ended on October 26 when Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe, triggering the political standoff.

Since ousting Wickremesinghe, Sirisena has highlighted the "shortcomings" of the ex-premier in a bid to justify his sacking and dissuade his reinstatement.

The president has already said he has no intention of making Wickremesinghe prime minister again no matter what the outcome of the case.

Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claim to be the rightful prime minister. Wickremesinghe says his dismissal is invalid because he still commands a majority in Parliament.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has officially conveyed that the House does not recognise Rajapaksa as the legal prime minister until he proves his majority.

The United National Front (UNF) coalition led by Wickeremesinghe has moved three no-trust motions against Rajapaksa.

The motions came to be adopted after the speaker summoned Parliament, in a direct confrontation with Sirisena.

Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament, however he has refused to step down. Wickeremesinghe has the backing of 106 parliamentarians, while the Rajapaksa-Sirisena combine has the support of 95.

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| Edited by: Anu Parthiban
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