Colombo, Sri Lanka (CNN)The President of Sri Lanka dissolved parliament on Friday and called a snap election for January 5, in a move aimed at ending a political standoff that has disrupted its capital, Colombo, for weeks.
Sri Lanka's President dissolves parliament and calls snap election amid political crisis
Last month, President Maithripala Sirisena sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister and appointed controversial former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, which triggered protests and violence leaving one person dead.
Wickremesinghe denounced Sirisena's attempt to remove him from office and refused to leave the official prime minister's residence, claiming the president does not have the power to take such action.
Just before Sirisena's announcement on Friday night, Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP), attempted to call for a "floor test" in parliament to measure how much support Sirisena maintained.
UNP Chairman Kabir Hashim told CNN: "They do not have the numbers to show a 113 majority in the 225-seat Parliament."
Government spokesperson Mahinda Samarasinghe told CNN, however, that there was no provision in parliamentary rules to have a "floor vote" at such short notice.
Sirisena signed the decree dismissing Sri Lanka's 225-member parliament just hours after his party admitted the party did not have a sufficient number of votes to elect Rajapaksa.
He said in a statement that a new parliament will be convened on January 17, after a general election is held on January 5. Sirisena's move is seen as an attempt to buy himself more time to gain the required backing for his preferred candidate.
Sirisena's move is nevertheless set to be challenged by his opponents in the Supreme Court on Monday, with Tilvin Silva, the general secretary of the leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP), describing the action as "illegal."