Sri Lanka president reconvenes parliament to extend emergency powers

[JURIST] Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa [official website] announced [press release] Wednesday that the dissolved Sri Lankan Parliament [official website] will reconvene to ratify a one-month extension to the current state of emergency. Rajapaksa dissolved parliament [JURIST report] last month to prepare for April elections, but, under the Sri Lankan Constitution [text], the president's emergency powers can be extended for only one month at a time, and the extension must be approved by parliament within ten days of the president's declaration. Rajapaksa announced the extension of emergency powers [The Hindu report] on Tuesday, claiming that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elan (LTTE) [JURIST news archive] still pose a threat. Parliament is expected to reconvene [Al Jazeera report] next week.

Last month,the Sri Lanka Supreme Court rejected a petition [JURIST reports] to release opposition presidential candidate and former general Sarath Fonseka [BBC profile], who is being held over an alleged coup plot. It is believed that Rajapaksa called early parliamentary elections to harness momentum from the presidential election in January, in which he was re-elected, to gain more seats in parliament for his political party, Freedom Alliance. Earlier last month, 37 people, most of them military officers, were arrested in connection to an alleged assassination attempt against Rajapaksa. The Sri Lankan Supreme Court ruled last month that Rajapaksa's second term [JURIST report] will begin in November. The apparent victor in January's elections, Rajapaksa defeated Fonseka by an official margin of 18 points, winning re-election to a second term in office. Fonseka has disputed [Al Jazeera report] the results, saying violence and vote-counting irregularities invalidated the outcome.

 

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