Sri Lanka: Maithripala Sirisena Defends His Move to Dissolve the Parliament
Guwahati: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena who recently found himself in deep water for his controversial decision to dissolve the parliament, Sunday strongly defended his move on Sunday, stating it was taken to prevent clashes among rival lawmakers. The President also blamed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya for not accepting his presidential powers
Addressing the Nation on Sunday, Sirisena outlined the reasons for dissolving parliament almost two years ahead of schedule.
Ousted Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, some political parties and civil society groups of the country criticised the President’s decision, terming it as illegal and unconstitutional.
The entire controversy unfurled after the island nation plunged into a constitutional crisis following Sirisena’s decision to abruptly sack Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, after three-and-a-half years of an estranged relationship with him on October 26.
Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16. Later, owing to domestic and international pressure, he issued a notice to reconvene parliament on November 14. However, on Friday, Sirisena dissolved parliament and announced snap polls on January 5 next year. Sirisena decided to dismiss the 225-member parliament just hours after his party admitted the party did not have a sufficient number of votes to elect Rajapaksa
Talking about his move President Sirisena said, “If I allowed the parliament to meet on November 14, there would have been violence in the House and it could have spread to our villagers and towns”
Referring to statements made by some of the parliamentarians that they were offered huge money to switch sides, Sirisena said, “It was sad that parliamentarians were being traded for rupees 100 to 150 million,”
Sirisena, further talking about his dismay with the way Speaker Karu Jayasuriya conducted the parliamentarian activities and disapprove the presidential powers said,
“The other reason for my dissolution of parliament was the behaviour of Speaker Karu Jayasuriya. He issued statements saying that he would not recognise the appointment of a new prime minister using my presidential powers.” He also said that Jayasuriya’s insistence of having a floor test on the very first day of the parliamentary session was unacceptable.
On the otherhand, Jayasuriya, earlier, accusing Sirisena of “usurping” the rights of legislators had said, “I have watched over the last two weeks as the executive branch has seized the rights and usurped the powers of members of parliament who were elected to represent the people”. He also said, “I call upon all public servants to refuse to execute any illegal orders they may receive, no matter from whom”
In another political development in the country on Sunday, new prime minister Rajapaksa left his longtime political party and joined the newly-formed Sri Lanka People’s Party (SLPP). The move could weaken Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, of which Rajapaksa had been a longtime member.
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