SRI Lanka’s minority ruling party urged President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday (April 29) to call a snap general election to strengthen its numbers, one day after parliament passed a watered-down political reform package.
The governing United National Party (UNP) called for the election after the opposition blocked several key reforms, thwarting Sirisena’s pledge to return Sri Lanka to a parliamentary-style democracy.
“There is now a necessity for an immediate dissolution of parliament,” UNP treasurer Eran Wickramaratne said in a statement.
“The (current) political uncertainly will have dire economic consequences.”
“The only way out is for the people to be given the chance to decide (at elections).”
Sirisena has yet to dissolve parliament and call an election despite pledging to act as soon as the reform package was passed.
Parliament on Tuesday (April 28) passed reforms to curb the powers of the president, including restoring a two-term limit - reversing changes made by strongman Mahinda Rajapakse during his decade-long rule.
But the ruling UNP was forced to compromise on other reforms to secure the support of the opposition, whose votes were crucial to gain a mandatory two-thirds majority in parliament.
Sirisena’s government does not enjoy a majority in parliament.
Tuesday’s bill removed the president’s power to dissolve parliament until it has completed four and a half years of its five-year term.
Previously the president had the power to sack parliament after one year, a threat Rajapakse had used to keep lawmakers in line.
The amendment was watered down, however, to ensure that the minority government secured the opposition’s support.
The government also agreed to accommodate four more legislators in a new body which will make key appointments to run 11 public institutions such as the police, the judiciary, the elections office and the civil service.