Sri Lanka crisis: Sirisena files counter petition supporting dissolution of Parliament
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena's supporters including some Cabinet ministers Tuesday filed five petitions in the Supreme Court supporting his controversial move to dissolve Parliament even as the apex court began hearing a case filed by Opposition parties against the move.
Sirisena dissolved Parliament on November 9 and announced snap polls to be held on January 5 next year after it became clear that he did not have enough support in the House to prove the premiership of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom he appointed prime minister after abruptly sacking Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26.
Rajapaksa needed the support of at least 113 parliamentarians in the 225-member House to prove his majority.
Major political parties and an election commission member on Monday dragged Sirisena to the Supreme Court, challenging his move of dissolving Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end.
Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the leftist JVP or the People's Liberation Front (PLF) were among the 10 groups that filed the fundamental rights petitions in the apex court, seeking a declaration of the President's action as illegal.
In response, five supporting petitions were filed in the Supreme Court by Sirisena backers including Prof G L Peiris, Minister Udhaya Gammanpila and leader Vasudewa Nanayakkara, the Daily Mirror reported.
Tight security prevailed around the Supreme Court complex as it began the second day's hearing of the petitions filed against Parliament dissolution.
The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the hearing after initial submissions. It was not clear if the judgement or the interim order pleaded by the petitioners would be granted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jayantha Jayasuriya, on behalf of the state, justified Sirisena's action, saying the powers of the President are clear and unambiguous as provided for in the Constitution and the announcement of the dissolution of Parliament was done by the President in accordance with the Constitution.
He pleaded for the dismissal of all petitions and said the President is empowered to dissolve Parliament.
Jayasuriya said the court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the Fundamental Rights petitions challenging the dissolution of Parliament and requested the apex court to dismiss all petitions.
Sirisena on Sunday stoutly defended his move to dissolve Parliament, saying it was taken to prevent clashes among rival lawmakers. He said there were media reports that politicians would clash during the floor test, which was due on November 14.
Rajapaksa, 72, who ruled Lanka for a nearly decade from 2005, was unexpectedly defeated by his deputy Sirisena in the presidential election held in January 2015 with the support from Wickremesinghe's UNP.
However, the power-sharing arrangement between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe became increasingly tenuous on several policy matters, especially on issues like the economy and security. And subsequently, Sirisena abruptly ousted Wickremesinghe and replaced him with Rajapaksa.
The island nation plunged into a constitutional crisis following the move.
Sirisena suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16. Later, owing to domestic and global pressure, he issued a notice to reconvene Parliament on November 14. last week, he dissolved Parliament and announced snap polls in January 2019.
(With inputs from agencies.)