Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa ordered dissolution of Parliament with effect from midnight on Tuesday, paving way for a general election likely to be held in the first half of April.
A senior official in the Presidential Secretariat said Mr. Rajapaksa signed the order on his return from a three-day trip to Moscow.
Parliament is constituted by a system of proportional representation, which is based on the percentage of votes polled by individual parties, and direct election. So, all major parties are assured of a relatively decent presence in the next Parliament.
The opposition combine that backed the candidature of General (retired) Sarath Fonseka has parties with conflicting views on certain fundamental issues and is likely to split during the parliamentary election.
Uncertainty prevails in the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) as well. It would be a Herculean task for the President to accommodate allies in the government without antagonising members of his own party, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
The JVP has already gone on record that it will go it alone in the general election. The pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is in disarray and has not made clear the position it will take.
The combinations that will emerge in the run-up to the elections remain unclear. Whatever be the case, Mr. Rajapaksa has nothing to worry.
With an unassailable lead of nearly 18 per cent in the election, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by Mr. Rajapaksa and the United People’s Freedom Alliance that he leads has a clear edge over the divided and battered opposition. However, it needs to be watched what impact the Fonseka detention would have on the general election.