Colombo, Nov 10 : Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the country's parliament, while announcing a snap election to be held on January 5.
The decision was taken hours after the leader's coalition, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) on Friday said that it was unable to gather sufficient parliamentary support for its designated prime minister.
The decision came as a latest spin in the ongoing political crisis following the president's abrupt move of sacking the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month, while replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former president.
In an official gazette notification, Sirisena said that the dissolution of the parliament, which is presently suspended, will come into effect at midnight, while a new legislature is slated to meet on January 17. In a post on Twitter, the United National Party (UNP) led by Wickremesinghe strongly criticised the decision, saying that it "vehemently rejects" the sacking of the parliament.
The party lashed out at Sirisena, while accusing the leader of robbing the "people of their rights and democracy". The UNP also said that though the president has the authority to appoint a prime minister, he did not exercise the power to sack the incumbent. The party has also demanded a parliamentary vote to prove Wickremesinghe's majority, a report in the Al Jazeera stated.
Following his sudden removal, Wickremesinghe continues to remain in the prime ministerial residence since October 26.
In a post on Twitter, Rajapaksa welcomed Sirisena's move, saying that a "general election will truly establish the will of the people and make way for a stable country". UNI