Sri Lankan president orders Parliament to reconvene Nov 14

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International desk: Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has ordered parliament to reconvene in 10 days, drawing sharp criticism from the party of the country’s sacked prime minister which decried it as “too late”.

The announcement on Sunday came amid mounting pressure to let legislators hold a vote in order to resolve a protracted political crisis over two rival prime ministers.

Sirisena had suspended parliamentary proceedings until November 16 after abruptly firing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last week and replacing him with Mahinda Rajapaksa, a controversial former president.

The parliament will now meet on November 14 at 10am local time (04:30 GMT), according to an official gazette notification.

Mangala Samaraweera, a member of Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP), condemned Sirisena’s decision to recall parliament two days prior to the initial suspension order, saying it was “an eyewash to appease the ever increasing” international and local pressure.

The United Nations and many Western countries had urged Sirisena to summon the House immediately, after Wickremesinghe called his October 26 sacking “unconstitutional” and refused to step down.

The deposed leader has demanded a vote to prove his majority. But in recent days, a steady stream of defections has eroded his narrow majority in the 225-member House.

At least eight legislators from the UNP and a member of an opposition party have now crossed over to the Sirisena and Rajapaksa-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), which had the backing of 96 legislators prior to the crisis.

Nearly all politicians who left the UNP took up ministerial posts in the new cabinet.

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