EU denounces dissolution of Sri Lanka Parliament, Latest World News - The New Paper

EU denounces dissolution of Sri Lanka Parliament

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COLOMBO: Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament, worsening an already major political crisis, has drawn criticism from Western powers, including the US and the European Union (EU).

Mr 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 Jan 5.

The President triggered a power struggle when he sacked then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe late last month and appointed the island's former leader, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his place.

The pro-China strongman was defeated by Mr Sirisena in an election in 2015.

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

The US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said in a tweet that the US 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 spokesman for EU'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, Ms Mogherini 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 Mr Rajapaksa could derail halting progress made towards national reconciliation following a war with ethnic minority Tamil separatists.

Tens of thousands were killed, many during the final stages under his watch as president.

Mr 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," Mr Field said.

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