The justices accept a motion by opposition parties, suspending President Sirisena’s decision to call an election on 5 January 2019. Former strongman Rajapaksa joins a new party.
Colombo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court suspended President Maithripala Sirisena’s move last Friday to dissolve Parliament and call for new elections on 5 January 2019.
Today’s decision comes amid a tug-of-war between the president and the opposition, which has divided the island nation, already badly marked by almost 30 years of civil war, over the past few weeks.
The political crisis began in late October when Sirisena dismissed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, his former government ally, and replaced him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, the country’s former strongman, who has been accused of abuses committed during the country’s civil war.
This move, justified as an attempt to end the country’s rampant corruption, was rejected as illegal by activists, bishops and the speaker of the Parliament.
The Supreme Court accepted the motion to stop the president’s decision presented by three major parties represented in Parliament: the United National Party (UNP) of Wickremesinghe, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the left-wing People's Liberation Front (JVP).
Meanwhile, in a surprise move, Rajapaksa, instead of joining Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party, chose to head a recently formed party, the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP).