Sri Lanka President Sirisena dissolves parliament

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena

Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly with effect from midnight, clearing the way for a snap election almost two 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.

The notice will become official once it's published, and it is required to include dates for nominations for fresh elections.

He has refused to vacate his official residence. But the admission of a lack of a majority had fuelled speculation that he might sack the legislature and go for a snap election.

Later Sirisena agreed to reconvene parliament on November 14, but that will now not happen. 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.

"We fear that recent actions, if not corrected, will threaten your country's democratic development and derail the progress made in recent years", the three lawmakers said in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. He attempted to install Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister.

"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 best thing to do now is go for an election".

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"The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament", said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at New Delhi-based analyst group Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.

The United States and the UK have raised concerns over the decision taken by President Maithripala Sirisena to dissolve Parliament.

The EU said Friday, before the dissolution, that the crisis had scarred the Indian Ocean island's worldwide reputation.

"Any further delays could damage Sri Lanka's worldwide reputation and deter investors", it warned.

Wickremesinghe late Thursday thanked his supporters and urged them not to give up.

"For this inspiring effort, I want to thank everyone who has risen to fight for democracy and justice", he said.

The power struggle on the island of 21 million people has paralysed much of the administration, according to legislators on both sides of the dispute.

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