• Monday, Jan 17, 2022
  • Last Update : 03:02 am

US, EU denounce dissolution of Sri Lanka parliament

  • Published at 07:48 pm November 11th, 2018
SRI LANKA-POLITICS-PARLIAMENT
Sri Lankan activists hold placards during a demonstration in Colombo on November 4, 2018 AFP

Mark Field, the British minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, tweeted his concern about the dissolution of parliament days before it was due to be reconvened

Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to dissolve parliament, worsening an already major political crisis, has drawn criticism from Western powers, including the United States and the European Union.

Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night, only five days before it was due to reconvene. A new cabinet he installed was in danger of losing a vote of no confidence.

He also called a general election for January 5.

The president triggered a power struggle when he sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe late last month and appointed the island's former leader, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a pro-China strongman defeated by Sirisena in an election in 2015, in his place.

Sirisena's rivals are set to challenge his decision, which they describe as illegal and unconstitutional, in the Supreme Court on Monday.

The US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said in a tweet that the United States was "deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, further deepening the political crisis". It said democracy needed to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity. A spokeswoman for the European Union's foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement that the move "risks undermining public confidence in the country’s democratic institutions and processes and further deepens the political and economic crisis in the country."

Last week, the EU's ambassador warned it could consider stripping Sri Lanka of its duty-free access if it backs off commitments on rights. The EU is worried the return of Rajapaksa could derail halting progress made toward national reconciliation following a war with ethnic minority Tamil separatists that killed tens of thousands, many during the final stages under his watch as president.

Mark Field, the British minister of State for Asia and the Pacific, tweeted his concern about the dissolution of parliament days before it was due to be reconvened.

"As a friend of Sri Lanka, the UK calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes," Field said.

Canada's Foreign Policy twitter feed said that it was "deeply concerned" about the decision and referred to the risks to reconciliation work after the nation's civil war.

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne expressed both concern and disappointment in a statement, saying the move "undermines Sri Lanka's long democratic tradition and poses a risk to its stability and prosperity."

Sirisena has said he fired Wickremesinghe because the prime minister was trying to implement "a new, extreme liberal political concept by giving more priority for foreign policies and neglecting the local people's sentiment."

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