Sri Lankan Parliament

Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court on Tuesday overruled President Maithripala Sirisena’s dissolution of parliament and ordered a halt to preparations for snap elections next year.

The country has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since Sirisena sacked prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on October 26 and replaced him with ex-President Mahinda Rajapakse.

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Wickremesinghe’s party led the petitions against the dissolution and the three-judge bench, headed by the Chief Justice Nalin Perera, read out the decision to a packed court guarded by hundreds of heavily armed police and commandos.

The court suspended a proclamation issued by Sirisena on Friday sacking the legislature and calling for elections on January 5.

The ruling means parliament could go ahead with a vote to test if Sirisena’s controversial nominee is able to summon a majority in the 225-member assembly and force Wickremesinghe from office.

The court also ordered the Independent Elections Commission to halt preparations for the January 5 vote.