General elections in Sri Lanka on January 5

Nellie Chapman
November 10, 2018

Rajapaksa is the former president of Sri Lanka.

The political turmoil in Sri Lanka deepened on Friday, November 9, after President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Parliament, calling for early elections in the country on January 5, nearly 2 years ahead of schedule.

Nominations will be called from 19th November 2018 till 12 noon 26th November 2018 during which nomination papers shall be received by the Returning Officers of the respective districts.

"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 New Delhi-based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

He said the UNP will expect the Elections Commissioner to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court against the illegal actions of the President. "For this inspiring effort, I want to thank everyone who has risen to fight for democracy and justice". At least eight have switched sides, but at least 120 deputies in the 225-seat parliament remain loyal to Wickramasinghe. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

However, the UNP - whose numbers declined from 106 to 98 amid defections - gained an edge when the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of 15 legislators representing the country's ethnic Tamil minority, said it would back a motion to oust newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

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However, the decision was challenged by prosecutors and Hajiyeva will remain in custody pending an appeal on Thursday. He said there were "substantial grounds to believe she would not surrender" to the court if she was granted bail.

The admission, which came despite Sirisena's earlier claim that he had the support of 113 legislators when he sacked Wickremesinghe, had fuelled speculation that he would go for snap elections.

"No, no there won't be a dissolution of parliament or a referendum", Rohana Lakshman Piyadasa, the general secretary of President Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, told the party's central committee meeting on Thursday.

Wickremesinghe, who has not left the Temple Trees residence since his sacking, maintains that the action against him was unconstitutional and illegal, and insists his group can muster a majority.

Under pressure from the United Nations, the USA and the European Union to allow a parliamentary vote, Sirisena agreed three times to lift the suspension but changed his mind each time.

The EU said Friday, before the dissolution, that the crisis had scarred the Indian Ocean island's global reputation.

"Any further delays could damage Sri Lanka's worldwide reputation and deter investors", it warned.

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