In a crucial verdict that could possibly end Sri Lanka’s current political impasse, the Supreme Court will, at 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, rule on President Maithripala Sirisena’s November 9 move dissolving Parliament and calling for snap polls.
The judgement will be delivered by a seven-judge bench, seven weeks after Sri Lanka plunged into an unprecedented political crisis, arguably the biggest since the civil war ended a decade ago.
For over a month now, the country has been left without a legitimate government or cabinet. The economy and tourism sector, in particular, have taken a huge beating.
The crisis erupted on October 26, when President Maithripala Sirisena sacked incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and abruptly replaced him with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was until then the President’s chief political rival.
While Mr. Rajapaksa was unable to prove majority in Parliament after being installed in the office of the PM, President Sirisena set off a series of high-stakes actions – first, a prorogation of Parliament and subsequently its dissolution – sparking considerable domestic and international concern.
Following a swift hearing of petitioners challenging Mr. Sirisena’s action sacking Parliament, and their respondents, Sri Lanka’s apex court on November 13 stayed the dissolution and restrained the Election Commission from preparing for early elections.
The interim order enabled the legislature to reconvene, and witnessed dramatic sittings, including a few in which Mr. Rajapaksa’s MPs resorted to violent attacks on the Speaker and legislators seated in opposition.
Despite MPs opposed to the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine proving a majority in the House multiple times, President Sirisena has said he will not work with Mr. Wickremesinghe. On Wednesday, a majority of MPs — including 14 from the opposition Tamil National Alliance (TNA) — voted for ousted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as their preferred candidate to serve as Premier.