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Parliament In Sri Lanka Gets Dissolved, President Calls For Election

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena waves to supporters during a rally outside the parliamentary complex in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

ri Lanka’s president dissolved Parliament and called for elections on Jan. 5 in a bid to stave off a deepening political crisis over his dismissal of the prime minister that opponents say is unconstitutional.

An official notification signed by President Maithripala Sirisena announced the dissolution of Parliament effective midnight Friday. It said the names of candidates will be called before Nov. 26 and the new Parliament is to convene Jan. 17.

Sri Lanka has been in a crisis since Oct. 26, when Sirisena fired his prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and replaced him with former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa. Both say they command a majority in Parliament and had been expected to face the 225-member house Wednesday after it was suspended for about 19 days.

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Sri Lanka’s sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe holds a copy of the constitution of Sri Lanka as he attends a media briefing at his official residence in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama told The Associated Press Saturday that the reason for the president to dissolve Parliament was the need to go to the people to find a resolution to the crisis.

“On the 14th there was to be a lot of commotion and unparliamentary activities sponsored by the speaker,” Amunugama said. “The speaker was not planning to act according to the constitution and standing orders of Parliament.”

Sirisena’s supporters had been irked by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s announcement that he was going to call for a vote for either party to prove their support.

Miscalculation

“The dissolution clearly indicates that Mr. Sirisena has grossly misjudged and miscalculated the support that he might or could secure to demonstrate support in the Parliament,” said Bharath Gopalaswamy, director at U.S.-based analyst group Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center. “At the end of the day, he is a victim of his own homegrown crisis.”

Sri Lanka, parliament
Sri Lankan civil rights activists hold placards during a demonstration outside the official residence of ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka. VOA

Wickremesinghe has insisted his firing is unconstitutional. He has refused to vacate his official residence and demanded that Parliament be summoned immediately to prove he had support among its members.

Tensions had been building between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe for some time, as the president did not approve of economic reforms introduced by the prime minister. Sirisena has also accused Wickremesinghe and another Cabinet member of plotting to assassinate him, a charge Wickremesinghe repeatedly denied.

Sirisena was critical of investigations into military personnel accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka’s long civil war against a Tamil separatist group, which ended in 2009. Rajapaksa, who ruled as president from 2005 to 2015, is credited as a hero by the ethnic Sinhalese majority for winning the conflict. But he lost a re-election bid in 2015 amid accusations of nepotism, corruption and wartime atrocities.

Constitutional question

Wickremesinghe’s camp is likely to contest Sirisena’s move because of constitutional provisions stating a Parliament can’t be dissolved until 4 ½ years after its election. The current Parliament was elected in August 2015.

sri lanka, parliament
Sri Lankan former President Mahinda Rajapakse addresses journalists at his residence in Colombo, Sept. 22, 2018. Rajapakse has been appointed the Sri Lanka’s new prime minister. VOA

“It’s totally unconstitutional,” said Harsha de Silva, a member of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party and a former minister. “Sirisena has relegated the constitution to toilet paper. We will fight this dictator to the end.”

The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena’s move.

US urges caution

The U.S. State Department tweeted that it is deeply concerned by news the Sri Lanka Parliament will be dissolved, “further deepening the political crisis.”

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“As a committed partner of Sri Lanka, we believe democratic institutions and processes need to be respected to ensure stability and prosperity,” the statement said.

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and two other lawmakers wrote to Sirisena warning that actions circumventing the democratic process could impact U.S. assistance, including a planned five-year aid package from the Millennium Challenge Corporation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. (VOA)

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“I Shouldn’t Be Dragged Into Politics”, Says Singer Adnan Sami

Soon after Sami was declared one of the Padma Shri recipients of the year, many felt he shouldn't have been given the award because he originally hails from Pakistan

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Adnan Sami
Soon after Sami was declared one of the Padma Shri recipients of the year, many felt he shouldn't have been given the award because he originally hails from Pakistan. Wikimedia Commons

Singer Adnan Sami has lately been on a slamming spree against anyone who has questioned his Padma Shri win. He has now declared that he is a musician and he shouldn’t be dragged into political debates.

Soon after Sami was declared one of the Padma Shri recipients of the year, many felt he shouldn’t have been given the award because he originally hails from Pakistan. It was also pointed out that while Sami opted for an Indian citizenship only four years gao, his father is a Pakistani security force veteran who fought against India during the 1999 Kargil War.

Sami has earlier declared that he shouldn’t be held responsible for his father’s action. Asked how he looked at the fact that Indian Muslims continue to be made accountable for what the Mughals and other Muslim invaders did to Hindus over centuries, he said: “First of all, the best thing about history is that it’s past, and it should be kept in the past because that’s where it belongs. God gave us eyes to look forward and not backward. The most important thing is we should forget all that because nobody from that era is alive today to answer these questions — least of all you (the media) and I, or anybody for that matter.”

“Secondly, this is all about politics. I am not a politician. I am a musician. Just like you wouldn’t ask a politician about Raag Darbari, don’t ask me about politics. All I know is that I am a musician. I spread love through my music. Even those who have issues with me, do listen to my music, and I am cool with that. God bless them and the Mughals, the Britishers, the Mongolians, Alexander the Great — they may have died and they have done their bit, so let them rest in peace. Let’s look towards what we can do for our country instead,” said Sami, at the launch of his new song ‘Tu yaad aya’.

Adnan Sami
Singer Adnan Sami has lately been on a slamming spree against anyone who has questioned his Padma Shri win. He has now declared that he is a musician and he shouldn’t be dragged into political debates. Wikimedia Commons

Ever since his Padma Shri win, Sami has been facing social media ire. Among those who have objected is Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill, who slammed the BJP government for conferring Padma Shri on Sami, who became an Indian citizen only four years ago. Shergill shared a video on Twitter in which he can be seen lashing out at the government.

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Shergill pointed out that on one hand, while retired Indian Army Junior Commissioned Officer Mohammad Sanaullah has been tagged as a “ghuspethiya” in the NRC list by the Centre, on the other hand, Adnan Sami, whose father fought against India during the 1999 Kargil War, has been honoured with the Padma Shri. (IANS)