COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the nation's parliament Friday night in view of his inability to get the 20 th Constitutional Amendment (20A) embodying electoral reforms passed due to a lack of majority in the House.
The Government Printer said that he had received a gazette notification dissolving parliament. He also said that fresh elections to the House will be held on August 17.
The 225 member House was elected in April 2010 and was to last till April 2016.
The government, which is a coalition of the United National Party (UNP); the Sirisena faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ; and some parties belonging to the United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA) , was in a minority in the House.
It could not present some key money bills fearing defeat and had no chance of getting two thirds majority to pass the 20th.Amendment on electoral reforms.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the SLFP and the UPFA was opposed to President Sirisena's proposals on the electoral reforms. To add to Sirisena's woes, the UNP, and the parties of the minorities, also had radically different views on the reforms.
But Sirisena was very keen on electoral reforms as these were an important part of his Presidential election manifesto. He tried his best to arrive at a compromise set of reforms but failed.
Furthermore, the UNP wanted parliament dissolved at the earliest so that it could pitch for a majority in the next elections.The UNP also wanted to exploit the divisions in the SLFP and UPFA to get the maximum number of seats.
But Sirisena was reluctant to dissolve parliament as he needed time to consolidate his hold on the SLFP and the UPFA vis-a-vis the Rajapaksa faction. Though he registered some gains, total or even effective control was a far cry. The Rajapaksa faction wanted Sirisena to ditch the UNP and patch up with their leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, But Sirisena could not jettison the UNP because he had taken its support to win the January 8, 2015 Presidential election.
There was yet another compulsion which Sirisena had to contend with. He had promised the US and the UN that he would hold fresh elections and install a new government by September before the Septembee session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Sri Lanka faces the prospect of a hostile resolution against it in the September session of the UNHRC.