Thursday, March 21, 2019 | ePaper

Sri Lanka court verdict expected on Parliament's dissolution

  • Print


It was not immediately clear if Wednesday's resolution would be accepted by Sirisena.

AP, Colombo :
Sri Lanka's Supreme Court is set to deliver a much-anticipated verdict Thursday on whether President Maithripala Sirisena's order to dissolve Parliament and calling for fresh elections was legal, moves that set off a political crisis in the Indian Ocean island nation.
A seven-member bench of the highest court concluded hearings last week after staying the order in November.
The court is expected in its verdict to explain a recent constitutional amendment that says that the president can't dissolve Parliament before 4 ½ years from the day of its first sitting, and whether it applies in this case. A ruling that Sirisena was within his rights could quickly end a political stalemate precipitated by his decision in October to sack the then-prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and suspend Parliament. Such an order would pave the way for the election of a new Parliament, but prolong a period of uncertainty in Sri Lanka about who is running the country, according to Chandra Jayaratne of Friday Forum, a Sri Lankan rule of law advocacy group.
"Then the Parliament stands dissolved from tonight," he said. "Who is going to govern the country?" If the court rules instead in favor of Sirisena's opponents, the president would be under pressure to reappoint Wickremesinghe as prime minister. On Wednesday Wickremensinghe won a confidence vote in Parliament.
While political norms dictate Sirisena respect the high court's verdict, Sri Lanka's strong executive powers mean that the court has no recourse if he doesn't follow it. Lawmakers could separately move to impeach him on charges of breaching the Constitution, but impeachment requires 2/3 of votes in Parliament, and with Wickremesinghe commanding only a simple majority, an impeachment is seen as an unlikely outcome.
Sri Lanka's crisis began in October when Sirisena abruptly sacked Wickremesinghe and appointed former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place, the culmination of years of infighting over Wickremesinghe's economic reforms and his efforts to investigate alleged abuses during Sri Lanka's long civil war, which ended in 2009. The military under Rajapaksa has been charged with carrying out some of the alleged abuses.
Soon after being appointed prime minister, Rajapaksa sought to secure a majority in Parliament but failed. In response, Sirisena dissolved Parliament and ordered new elections, but those actions were halted by the Supreme Court.
Since then Rajapaksa has been defeated twice in no-confidence motions in Parliament and also had his and his ministers' budgets stripped by majority votes.
Despite Rajapaksa not having Parliament's confidence, Sirisena has resisted calls to reappoint Wickremesinghe, ignoring warnings that such a refusal could amount to a breach of the Constitution.
Wickremesinghe on Wednesday won the support of 117 members in the 225-member Parliament to function as the prime minister.
The no-confidence votes against Rajapaksa in Sri Lanka's Parliamentary chamber last month descended into chaos, with Rajapaksa supporters occupying the speaker's chair and throwing books and water mixed with chili powder to try to prevent a vote. The speaker announced that the votes were passed by voice and that there was no longer a prime minister or Cabinet.
However, Rajapaksa continued in office with Sirisena's backing. Lawmakers opposed to Rajapaksa filed another petition at the Court of Appeal, which ordered him and his ministers to stop functioning in their positions until the case was concluded.
With Sri Lanka effectively lacking a functioning government, some officials worry it will be unable to pass a budget to finance government activities beyond the end of 2018.

More News For this Category

May tries to save Brexit plan ahead of EU summit

May tries to save Brexit plan ahead of EU summit

British Prime Minister Theresa May will write to EU President Donald Tusk with a plan for delaying Brexit beyond March 29, her spokesman said Tuesday, admitting the parliamentary deadlock had

Trump reaffirms US considering 'all options' to bring down Venezuela's President Maduro

Trump reaffirms US considering 'all options' to bring down Venezuela's President Maduro

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday reaffirmed that "all options" are being considered in his drive to bring down Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro."All options are on the table," he

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

Abel Prize for maths awarded to woman for first time

AFP, Oslo : Women took another step forward in the still male-dominated world of science Tuesday, as American Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize in mathematics for her work on partial

"Democracy in UK all but dead": Trump Jr slams PM May over Brexit

US President Donald Trump's eldest son rebuked UK Prime Minister Theresa May over her faltering Brexit tactics Tuesday, claiming she had unnecessarily prolonged Britain's EU withdrawal by ignoring his father's

Allahu Akbar were Lion Air co-pilot's last words before crash: Report

Allahu Akbar were Lion Air co-pilot's last words before crash: Report

Reuters, Jakarta/Singapore :The pilots of a doomed Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX scoured a handbook as they struggled to understand why the jet was lurching downwards, but ran out of

News In Brief

Nawaz Sharif's bail plea postponed till March 26PTI, Islamabad Pakistan's Supreme Court on Tuesday postponed the verdict of jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif"s application seeking bail on medical grounds

New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

New Zealanders give up guns after massacre, but some face blowback

AFP, Christchurch :New Zealanders have begun handing in weapons in response to government appeals following the Christchurch massacre, but the gesture has put some squarely in the social media firing

UN experts urge Israel to rein in security forces

UN experts urge Israel to rein in security forces

Reuters, Geneva : U.N. war crimes investigators called on Israel on Monday to stop its snipers using lethal force against protesters on the border with Gaza, as the anniversary approached of

US-backed forces take control of IS Syria encampment

US-backed forces take control of IS Syria encampment

AP, Syria :U.S.-backed Syrian forces fighting the Islamic State group announced Tuesday they have taken control over an encampment in an eastern Syrian village where IS militants have been besieged

Brazilian physicist wins $1.4 million Templeton Prize

Brazilian physicist wins $1.4 million Templeton Prize

Reuters, New Hampshire :Brazilian physicist and astronomer Marcelo Gleiser has been awarded the 2019 Templeton Prize, worth $1.4 million, for his work blending science and spirituality.Gleiser, 60, is the first