UN chief Antonio Guterres has expressed concern over Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve the nation’s Parliament, underlining the “utmost importance” of respecting democratic processes and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law. Sri Lanka’s political crisis deepened Friday as President Sirisena dissolved the Parliament and announced snap polls on January 5 after it became evident that he did not have enough support in the House for Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was appointed by him under controversial circumstances.
The Secretary-General “learned with concern” Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Sri Lanka’s parliament and move to new parliamentary elections, a statement issued on Saturday by Secretary-General Guterres’ Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq said. Guterres underlined the “utmost importance of respecting democratic processes and institutions and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law and due process.” He renewed his call on the Sri Lankan government to ensure peace and safety for all the countrymen and uphold its commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation.
Sri Lanka was plunged into a political crisis after Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with former president Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe, who dubbed the move as a “constitutional coup”, has refused to vacate his official residence, saying he is the lawful prime minister and that the president has no constitutional right to replace him.
Amid the ongoing political tensions in Sri Lanka, Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer last month met the Speaker of Parliament Karu Jayasuriya stressing Guterres’ message for the need to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions. Guterres earlier said he was following Sri Lanka’s deepening political crisis with “great concern” and called on the nation’s government to respect democratic values and constitutional process.
President Sirisena signed a gazette notification to dissolve the nation’s parliament with effect from Friday midnight. According to the gazette notice, nominations to contest the snap election would be taken between November 19 and 26. The election will be held January 5 and the new parliament would be convened on January 17.
Sirisena issued the gazette noticing that the parliament stands dissolved some 21 months ahead of its schedule in August 2020.