Sri Lanka president dissolves parliament, calls for early elections

[JURIST] Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website, in Sinhala] dissolved Parliament [official website] on Tuesday and called for early parliamentary elections. The country's parliamentary elections could now be conducted [BBC report] as early as April 8, with the new parliament convening as early as April 22. It is believed that Rajapaksa is trying to harness momentum from the presidential election in January, in which he was re-elected, to gain more seats in parliament for his political party, Freedom Alliance. This move comes just one day after Sri Lankan military police arrested [JURIST report] defeated opposition presidential candidate and former general Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile]. The Sri Lankan Media Centre for National Security (MCNS) announced [press release] that Fonseka was arrested "in connection with certain fraudulent acts and other military offences." Officials said Tuesday that Fonseka will face a court-martial.

Last week, 37 people, most of them military officers, were arrested in connection to an alleged assassination attempt against Rajapaksa. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled last week that Rajapaksa's second term [JURIST report] will begin in November. The apparent victor in January's elections, Rajapaksa defeated Fonseka by an official margin of 18 points, winning re-election to a second term in office. Fonseka has disputed [Al Jazeera report] the results, however, saying violence and vote-counting irregularities invalidated the outcome.



 

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