Maithripala Sirisena

Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena has signed an order dissolving the country’s parliament, according to two sources, amid a worsening constitutional crisis triggered by the sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last month.

The move on Friday will pave the way for snap elections in January, a source close to Sirisena told Al Jazeera.

“The president has signed the gazette notification and it will be published very soon,” the source said.

“The elections commission can call for nominations within 14 days, and elections are likely to be held in the first week of January.”

A senior government official confirmed Sirisena’s move, and told Al Jazeera the president had no choice but to dissolve parliament because of Wickremesinghe’s refusal to step down.

The deposed leader has remained holed up at the prime minister’s residence since his abrupt dismissal on October 26, while demanding a parliamentary vote to prove his majority.

His United National Party (UNP) has denounced Wickremesinghe’s removal as unconstitutional, arguing the president does not have the authority to sack a sitting prime minister – a claim Sirisena denies.

The UNP, responding to the president’s latest move on Friday, said it “vehemently rejects” the dissolution of parliament.

“He has robbed the people of their rights and the democracy that we have enjoyed,” the party said in a Twitter post.

But the government official who spoke to Al Jazeera insisted Sirisena was acting well within his constitutional rights in dissolving parliament.

“The best thing is do now is go for an election. This is what the people also want,” he said.

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