Sri Lankan President dissolves Parliament

Snap elections will be held on April 25

Updated - March 03, 2020 09:39 am IST

Published - March 03, 2020 08:20 am IST - Colombo

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved Parliament ahead of schedule on Monday and set new elections for April, in which he aims to secure a strong majority that will enable him to push for constitutional changes to increase presidential powers.

The dissolution comes six months before the parliamentary term was scheduled to end. The decree signed by Mr. Rajapaksa said elections will be held on April 25.

Mr. Rajapaksa was elected to office last November but has said he cannot work freely because his presidential powers were reduced. He has also faced restrictions because the opposition commanded a majority in the 225-member Parliament.

The election campaign period will include the first anniversary of a series of Islamic State-inspired suicide bombings that killed more than 250 people in churches and tourist hotels on Easter Sunday last year.

Mr. Rajapaksa rode to power criticising the previous government of serious security and intelligence lapses that paved the way for the bombings, the worst incident of violence since the country’s 26-year civil war ended in May 2009.

Constitutional changes initiated by Mr. Rajapaksa’s predecessor, Maithripala Sirisena, reduced presidential powers and gave them to the Parliament and to independent commissions.

The change virtually created two political power centers — the President and the Prime Minister, with the PM in charge of Parliament and government Ministers.

Mr. Rajapaksa needs two-thirds parliamentary support to pass changes to the constitution.

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