State media: Sri Lanka president dissolves Parliament

Sri Lanka LGBT rights activists protested the President

Wickremesinghe, however, claims he is still the legally appointed prime minister. "We will fight in the courts, we will fight in parliament and we will fight at the polls".

Sirisena dissolved parliament on Friday night, only five days before it was due to reconvene and he was in danger of losing a vote of no confidence.

Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe on October 26 and on Friday he set the election for January 5.

According to the gazette notice, nominations to contest the snap election would be taken between November 19 and 26. At least eight have switched sides, but at least 120 deputies in the 225-seat parliament remain loyal to Wickramasinghe. He maintained his choice for prime minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, had a majority in Parliament.

"At the moment we have 104 or 105 MPs", UPFA spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told reporters, adding that the Sirisena-Rajapakse group hoped to secure support from "crossover" legislators.

"Now we have a caretaker government with limited functions", Premajayantha said. "We are prepared to go for an election, but this is illegal".

Worldwide concern has grown over the mounting turmoil, with Wickremesinghe refusing to leave the premier's official residence while the president also suspended parliament to head off any revolt against his action.

Rajapakse and the ousted Wickremesinghe have been battling for power for two weeks as global concern grew over the mounting turmoil in the strategically important island nation.

Under pressure from the local as well as worldwide organizations including the United Nations, European Union and Western governments, the President chose to reconvene the parliament on November 14, just two days ahead of the scheduled date. "A general election will truly establish the will of the people and make way for a stable country".

Washington's criticism of Sirisena's move was swift.

The political turmoil in Sri Lanka deepened on Friday, November 9, after President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the Parliament, calling for early elections in the country on January 5, nearly 2 years ahead of schedule.

"As a friend of Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom calls on all parties to uphold the constitution and respect democratic institutions and processes", Field said. Sirisena said he had to fire Wickremesinghe for mismanaging the economy and because of a Cabinet minister's alleged involvement in a plot to assassinate Sirisena. The move was seen as giving them access to state resources in the run up to the January vote.

The leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP), which regards the sacking of Wickremesinghe as unconstitutional, accused Sirisena of trying to consolidate his power grab.

Independent legal experts had told Reuters that parliament could be dissolved only in early 2020, which would be four-and-half-years from the first sitting of the current parliament.

Wickremesinghe late Thursday thanked his supporters and urged them not to give up in the showdown.

It was not immediately clear if he would vacate the official Temple Trees residence following the dissolution of parliament.

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