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Sri Lanka's president dissolves parliament

President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka has ordered the dissolution of the parliament. The move paves the way for parliamentary elections 10 months ahead of schedule.

The Sri Lankan President gave out orders to dissolve the parliament beginning Friday midnight, the official spokesman said.

"The president signed a gazette notification a short while ago dissolving parliament with effect from midnight today," spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said.

New elections would be held 10 months ahead of schedule, on August 17 and the new parliament would be convened on September 2, officials said.

Sirisena's decision came after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe pressed for elections because the ruling United National Party (UNP) lacked sufficient majority to pass reforms. Wickremesinghe was facing a no-trust resolution initiated by opposition members, who had a majority in the 225 member assembly.

"Once the new government is established, we will have our policies spelled out and it will be good for everybody and for investment confidence," the prime minister's deputy Harsha de Silva told journalists.

The toppling of former President Mahindra Rajapakse earlier this year led to a minority government that was unable to pass new laws necessary for reforms. Sirisena's parliament was still controlled by lawmakers who blocked the new party's moves for change. The new president, however, managed to bring back old laws that restricted the president's term to a maximum of two and also reduced the term of a parliament from six years to five.

Sirisena's latest move was aimed at bringing about stability in the legislature and address ethnic reconciliation between Sinhalese and the Tamils.

Ethnic war between the two communities lasted nearly four decades, until 2009 and claimed 100,000 lives. The government has also promised to set up a domestic tribunal to investigate alleged war crimes.

mg/jil (Reuters, AFP)

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