Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolves parliament, snap elections likely

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

The United States voiced concern Friday after Sri Lanka's president ordered snap elections, as lawmakers warned that U.S. aid was in question.

Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena has dissolved the country's parliament amid a worsening constitutional crisis triggered by the sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month.

Maithripala Sirisena said in a proclamation that a new parliament will be convened on January 17 after conducting the nation-wide vote on January 5.

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena's move. "We will fight this dictator to the end".

Before signing the order sacking the parliament with effect from Friday midnight, Sirisena also inducted more ministers into his cabinet.

Supporters of ousted Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe shout slogans as they gather at the prime minister's official residence in Colombo early November 10. The European Union in Colombo on Thursday said that it was essential that parliament be allowed to demonstrate its confidence by voting immediately when reconvened in order to resolve the serious uncertainties now facing the country.

Sirisena's United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had the backing of 96 legislators prior to the crisis, has managed to woo at least nine legislators to switch support in the past two weeks. Wickremasinghe now hopes to go to polls and seek sympathy for way he was sacked as PM.

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"Dissolving parliament at this time is illegal and goes against the constitution", JVP general secretary Tilvin Silva told reporters.

Sirisena had previously suspended the Parliament till November 16.

The EU, in a joint statement with Norway and Switzerland, called for parliament to reconvene and hold an immediate vote.

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

"You have not let this country be plunged into the darkness of dictatorship".

The power struggle on the island of 21 million people has paralysed much of the administration, according to legislators on both sides of the dispute.

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