The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on Tuesday stayed President Maithripala Sirisena’s order last week to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections in January, AFP reported. The court’s interim order is effective till December 7, adaderana.lk reported. The three-judge bench will hear the petitioners’ arguments on December 4, 5 and 6.
Several Opposition parties in the island country had challenged Sirisena’s order.
Elite police commandos guarded the entrance to the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning ahead of the verdict. “We have several units of the Special Task Force reinforcing hundreds of constables,” an unidentified senior police official told AFP. “We fear clashes between supporters of rival parties.”
The parties that had moved the top court include the United National Party, the main opposition Tamil National Alliance, and the People’s Liberation Front, which together have a majority in the Assembly.
The United National Party is led by deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose ouster by Sirisena last month has led to a political crisis in the island nation. Sirisena had replaced Wickremesinghe with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and had suspended Parliament till November 16 to prevent a vote. Though Sirisena later lifted the suspension and said the Parliament would reconvene on November 14, he dissolved it to call for snap polls on January 5.
The parties urged the Supreme Court to declare the dissolution of Parliament illegal. “The petitions were accepted this morning and it is up to the chief justice to decide when it will be taken up for hearing,” said an unidentified court official on Monday.
Corrections and clarifications: The headline and copy were edited to reflect that the court stayed the president’s order until December 7 and did not overturn it.