In an unusual move, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has prorogued Parliament for one week and left for Singapore on an unscheduled visit. There was no immediate comment from the government on Rajapaksa’s decision to suspend Parliament for a week.
The Sri Lankan Parliament, which ended its sessions on Friday, was originally set to convene on January 11. Because of the prolongation, It will now convene on January 18.
President Rajapaksa, through an extraordinary gazette notification dated December 12, suspended the assembly.
“I do by this proclamation prorogue Parliament with effect from midnight of the Twelfth day of December, Two Thousand and Twenty One and hereby fix the Eighteenth day of January Two Thousand and Twenty Two at 10 am for the commencement of the next session and summon parliament to meet…..” the gazette notification read.
Hours after proroguing Parliament, Gotabaya, 72, left for Singapore on an unscheduled visit.
Presidential officials said that he was on a private visit, believed to be for medical purposes.
Two key issues billed for discussions during Monday’s Cabinet meeting would not be taken up, energy minister Udaya Gammanpila told reporters.
The weekly Cabinet meeting was to discuss the possibility of Sri Lanka going for a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in view of the severe foreign currency crisis.
Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves have slipped to the lower level to suffice only a month’s imports.
The Cabinet was also scheduled to discuss a controversial power deal with a US power company for which the government allies had expressed vehement opposition.
The president’s action means all standing committees in Parliament would have to be reconstituted and reconvened.
Two oversight committees on public enterprises and public accounts have been pointing to many irregularities in running state institutions.
The assembly session dates and timings are set by political party leaders represented in Parliament in concurrence with the House Speaker.
However, the President has the power to prorogue Parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution.
During the prorogation, the Speaker continues to function and the members retain their membership even though they do not attend meetings of Parliament, according to the Colombo Gazette newspaper.