Sri Lanka parliament saved by Kerry

COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka’s parliament that was due to have been dissolved last week may have won a reprieve thanks to the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry, official sources said.

President Sirisena was originally committed to sacking the 225-membner legislature on April 23, but delays in presenting the 19th amendment and the weekend visit of Kerry had complicated matters.

"It is likely that any dissolution will be after Kerry’s visit (on May 2)," a top government official said. 

"The President may go for a dissolution soon after Vesak holidays (May 3-4)."

Kerry’s visit for talks with President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is seen as a sign of strong US support for the new dispensation which defeated former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa.

"If the president delays a dissolution, then it becomes very disadvantageous for the UNP (United National Party) and may even bring his motives into question," a UNP party source said.

However, a source close to the president said both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe were on the same page and an election could be expected around end June or early July.

The UNP is expecting a win a majority at the next elections and is preparing to offer turning the next parliament into a constituent assembly and adopt a brandnew constitution that would retuirn the country to a Westminster-style democracy.

In an unusually hard hitting statement, deputy minister of investments and highways, Eran Wickramaratne called for the immediate dissolution of parliament saying that the current legislature no longer had a mandate to govern.

"The political, social and economic consequences of a parliament that has outlived its mandate are grave," Wickramaratne said. "The political uncertainly will have dire economic consequences."

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He said the only way out was for the people to be given an opportunity to decide on the alternative proposals put forward by the political parties and on suitable candidates to carry out that program after the next election.

"There is now a necessity for an immediate dissolution of parliament," he added.

Kerry is also expected to push for political stability in the island in the context of warming ties with the West as well as neighbouring India after a decade of excessive dependency on China.

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