COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena ordered that the suspended parliament reunite on 14 November. This paved the way for a vote on his decision to dismiss the elected Prime Minister and replace him with the nationalist Mahinda Rajapaksa.
FILE PHOTO: Sri Lanka's President Maithripala Sirisena listens to a speech during a parliamentary session on the 70th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Government in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on October 3, 2017. REUTERS / Dinuka Liyanawatte / File Photo
Sirisena abruptly fired Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and ordered former President Rajapaksa to head the ruling coalition. He fears at home and abroad that Sri Lanka could slow down the national reconciliation process.
Wickremesinghe says his dismissal is unconstitutional. His United National Party petitioned Parliament, but Sirisena suspended his meeting by November 16, claiming Rajapaksa needed to prepare for the new government to prevent the vote.
Sirisena's order to reopen the house on November 14 was published in the Official Gazette on Sunday.
It was not clear if and when the 225-member parliament would vote on the request of the UNP that the dismissal of Wickremesinghe was illegal.
Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka in 2009 to a military defeat of the Tamil separatist guerrillas. Since then, widespread allegations of human rights violations and attacks on Tamil civilians have occurred.
Wickremesinghe told Reuters on Sunday that the US and Japan had frozen more than $ 1 billion in development aid after his abrupt dismissal cast doubt on the future of democracy on the island.
This is an EU warning that it could abolish duty-free concessions on Sri Lankan exports if it does not comply with national reconciliation obligations.
Sirisena's subpoena comes after Wickremesinghe's UNP on Friday declared that 118 lawmakers had met the spokesman to demand that the parliament be convened.
Prior to the dismissal of Wickremesing, the UNP held 107 seats. Eight of them have gone over to support Rajapaksa. One of 16 Tamil MPs also joined Rajapaksa.
Among the reasons for the hostility between Wickremesinghe and Sirisena is that Wickremesinghe refuses to support the candidacy of the president to stand in the next elections in late 2019.
Reporting by Ranga Sirilal and Shihar Aneez; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky