Lankan parties drag Prez to Supreme Court

PTI

World, Asia

Rajapaksa needed the support of minimum 113 parliamentarians in the 225-member House to prove his majority.

Mahinda Rajapaksa (Photo: AP)

Colombo: Sri Lanka's major political parties and an election commission member on Monday dragged President Maithripala Sirisena to the Supreme Court, challenging his controversial move of dissolving Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end.

Sirisena dissolved Parliament on October 9 and announced snap polls on January 5 next year after it became evident that he did not have enough support in the House to prove the premiership of 72-year-old Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he has appointed prime minister after abruptly sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26.

Rajapaksa needed the support of minimum 113 parliamentarians in the 225-member House to prove his majority.     

Ousted premier Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), the main opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the leftist JVP or the People's Liberation Front (PLF) were among the 10 groups that filed petitions in the apex court, seeking declaration of the president's action as illegal, officials said.The petitioners also include Election Commission member Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole.

The Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), a leading civil society think tank, has also filed a petition. “The CPA categorically opposes this move as it is unconstitutional and ultra vires,” the think tank said in a statement.

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Rauff Hakeem, a leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, which also filed a petition, said, “Filed action in the Supreme Court today challenging purported dissolution of parliament as untenable as per 19th amendment of the Constitution.”

The 19th Amendment to the Lankan Constitution restricts powers of the president to dissolve Parliament before the expiry of four-and-a-half years of a total five-year term. Therefore, constitutionally a fresh election could not happen before February 2020 as the current Parliament's term was to expire in August 2020.

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