Sri Lanka president dissolves parliament

February 9, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Mahinda Rajapakse on Tuesday sacked the national parliament, clearing the way for a national election two months ahead of schedule, his spokesman said. Rajapakse, who secured 58 percent of the popular vote at the presidential election, has said he hoped to improve his hold on a new parliament by winning a larger number of seats for his Freedom Alliance. Rajapakse, who won re-election in presidential polls last month, signed a decree dissolving the national assembly with effect from midnight Tuesday, spokesman Lucien Rajakarunanayake said.

“It is now up to the elections commissioner to decide on the dates for the parliamentary election,” he said.

The legislature elected in 2004 could have continued till April but Rajapakse’s latest move allows the ruling party to hold a snap election hot on the heels of his stunning success in the January 26 presidential vote.

Hours before parliament was dismissed, the government announced it was launching court martial proceedings against the defeated main opposition presidential candidate and former army chief, Sarath Fonseka.

Fonseka had been discussing plans to contest the parliamentary elect