Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament

Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President

Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President

New elections are likely to be held in early January, almost two years earlier than originally planned, a government minister told the AFP news agency.

The political turmoil in Sri Lanka deepened on Friday, November 9, after President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Parliament, calling for early elections in the country on January 5, nearly 2 years ahead of schedule.

The political crisis was started when he unconstitutionally ousted the Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and appointed former president Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister of the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government.

Sirisena sparked the two week-old drama last month by sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and naming Mahinda Rajapaksa - the country's authoritarian president from 2005 until 2015 - as his replacement.

On Sunday, the president called for parliament to reconvene November 14 amid increasing worldwide pressure to resolve the crisis.

Rajapaksa was accused of engaging in horse trading backed by China to secure majority in Parliament when it would have convened on Nov 14.

"This is a gross violation of the constitution", Harsha De Silva, a lawmaker in Wickremesinghe's party, told Reuters in reference to the dissolution of parliament. "We will be fighting this to ensure that Democracy reigns supreme in the country", the party said on Twitter.

Wickremesinghe is holed up in his official residence refusing to go, saying his removal would be illegal, while Rajapakse is running a parallel administration from the prime minister's office. Sirisena has filled only 22 of 30 cabinet positions - purposefully keeping some jobs vacant to tempt legislators of Wickremesinghe's party to defect to Rajapakse's side.

"At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs", UPFA spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, adding that the Sirisena-Rajapaksa group hoped to secure support from "crossover" legislators.

The UK Minister of State for Asia and the Pacific Mark Field said that he was concerned by news that Sri Lanka's Parliament has been dissolved days before it was due to be reconvened. "The best thing to do now is go for an election".

While the President's legal team has invoked Article 33 (2) c of the Constitution, which gives power to the President to prorogue, summon and dissolve Parliament. "This is what the people also want". Several legislators have said they were offered millions of dollars to switch allegiance and at least eight have already jumped to the president's side.