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No snap election, no referendum to end political crisis in Sri Lanka: President’s aide

Colombo | President Maithripala Sirisena has decided that there will be no snap elections or a national referendum to end the current political and constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka, according to his close aide.

“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 (SLFP), told the party’s central committee meeting Thursday night. Piyadasa was scotching rumours that Sirisena may opt for a snap poll with a dissolution of parliament well ahead of its August 2020 term expiry.

The island was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and replaced him with his former rival Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Wickremesinghe, however, claims he is still the legally appointed prime minister. His request for a floor test to prove his majority in the House has been turned down and Sirisena has suspended parliament till November 14 – a move believed to allow Rajapaksa muster the 113 seats required in the 225-member House.

Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on Monday slammed Sirisena’s “unconstitutional and undemocratic” actions to sack Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and suspend Parliament, saying he will not recognise Rajapaksa as the new premier unless he wins a floor test. The assembly speaker wants the floor test to take place on November 14. Parliament’s suspension by the president has come under increasing criticism by the international community.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association’s executive committee said it was watching with concern the ongoing situation in Sri Lanka.¬† “The CPA asserts the importance of upholding the rule of law as well as the essential role of the parliament of Sri Lanka as defined in and protected by the Constitution of Sri Lanka,” it said in a statement.

The European Union in Colombo said Thursday night that it was essential that parliament be allowed to demonstrate its confidence by voting immediately when reconvened in order to resolve the serious uncertainties currently facing the country. “Any further delays could damage Sri Lanka’s international reputation and deter investors,” it warned.

Wickremesinghe’s UNP and its allies have already signed a motion of no confidence against Rajapaksa which the rival camp says will not be taken up anytime soon.

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