Government seniors were this week considering the possible early dissolution of Parliament, the Sunday Times learns. Consultations at the highest levels were held on the pros and cons of dissolving Parliament. This comes against the backdrop of the revolt by a section of ruling UPFA Ministers and MPs who have opted to back the opposition’s common candidate, former SLFP General Secretary and Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena at the January 8th presidential election against incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Mr. Sirisena’s party post was handed over to Petroleum Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa and the Health Ministry was taken over by President Rajapaksa.
The thinking behind the move for an early dissolution of Parliament was to strip dissident UPFA MPs of their positions in government and parliamentary privileges with immediate effect.
Senior Government officials cited a precedent where President J.R. Jayewardene dissolved Parliament on December 20, 1988 the day after the 1988 Presidential election was won by R. Premadasa and fresh elections were called two months later. This deprived President Premadasa of having the 5/6th of Parliament under UNP control then, they said.
The obstacle to an immediate dissolution of Parliament is the need to have the 2015 Budget approved. The third reading of the Budget is scheduled for tomorrow when the Ministry of Finance votes will also be taken up. The Government still maintains a comfortable majority in Parliament to have the third reading passed with a comfortable majority but a mass defection of MPs might precipitate an immediate dissolution and a Vote on Account being passed in lieu of the Budget, it is learnt.
The Opposition has also asked for a special session of Parliament on December 12 and Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa has allowed it. Should Parliament be dissolved, the Government will be run by a caretaker Cabinet of Ministers headed by President Rajapaksa.