Sri Lanka may face snap parliamentary poll: Speaker

Karu Jayasuriya, Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka. (Reuters file photo)

Sri Lanka faces the possibility of a snap parliamentary poll, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said on Tuesday, a day after Gotabaya Rajapaksa took over as the country's president.

Rajapaksa, 70, of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) defeated Sajith Premadasa, 52, of the ruling United National Party (UNP) by more than 13 lakh votes.

The next parliamentary poll is scheduled only after August 2020. Constitutionally, a sitting prime minister cannot be removed unless he resigns. But following Rajapaksa's win, the need for a fresh parliamentary poll to allow the new president to form his own government has gained ground.

Speaker Jayasuriya on Tuesday said that after the presidential election victory of Rajapaksa, three options are being considered for the future functions of the Parliament.

The dissolution of Parliament on March 1 next year to pave for a snap parliamentary poll in April; dissolving Parliament immediately by providing two-third parliamentary support to dissolve the assembly; or allow the new president to form a caretaker Cabinet by the resignation of the current prime minister.

Jayasuriya said he will convene a parliamentary party leaders' meeting to discuss all the three options and make a final decision. The date of the meeting is yet to be finalised.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also under pressure to quit.

"As a party which honours democracy, we will discuss with the parliamentary group, the Speaker and party leaders about parliamentary elections," a statement from Wickremesinghe's office said on Monday.

After his swearing-in as President on Monday, Rajapaksa in his speech made it clear that he needs his own government to implement his policies.

Sources in the ruling UNP said the party is hit by differences of opinion over their next move. There is no unanimity over whether the party should step down from the government or wait till Rajapaksa can constitutionally dismiss it.

UNP parliamentarian Nalin Bandara on Tuesday told reporters that the party leader Wickremesinghe should step down on his own.

"Discuss the matter with us MPs and make the decision. If he is not going to step down as the party leader we may even want to move our own way to form a new party," he said.

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