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UNP mounting legal challenge against dissolution of parliament

Sri Lanka’s United National Party (UNP) has met with the elections commission and plans to take action in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena.

“The emerging tyranny of Maithripala Sirisena will be fought in the courts, in Parliament and at an election,” Mangala Samaraweera, the UNP’s finance minister said.

The UNP MP and state minister Harsha de Silva said the party had conveyed to the elections commission that they expected the commission to “act according to the law” and to “do what [they] had to, to save our democracy from [Sirisena] and illegal government.”

“We are ready for elections,” De Silva further said on Twitter. “But we will get it on our terms when the [Supreme Court] determines the dissolution is illegal.”

The Sri Lankan president on Friday announced the dissolution of parliament and declared a snap election on January 5.

Sirisena’s attempted sacking of UNP prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to replace him with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa plunged Sri Lanka into political crisis two weeks ago.

Observers say the dissolution was announced as Sirisena realised his de facto prime minister Rajapaksa would not command a majority in parliament, despite allegations of huge bribes for crossovers.