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Sirisena accuses foreign forces of intimidating him

Sirisena accuses foreign forces of intimidating him
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Colombo: Sri Lanka's current political crisis is a result of a clash between external and local values, defiant President Maithripala Sirisena has said as he accused "foreign forces" of intimidating him.

The island nation has been in a political crisis since October 26 when Sirisena removed Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed ex-strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place.

Sirisena later dissolved Parliament, almost 20 months before its term was to end, and ordered snap election. The Supreme Court overturned Sirisena's decision to dissolve Parliament and halted the preparations for snap polls.

Sri Lanka's Supreme Court on Friday reserved its verdict on a bunch of petitions against Sirisena's controversial decisions.

"When I acted according to the principles of nationalism without giving in to foreign forces and without being intimidated by their threats, foreign forces have become a challenge. The shadows of the old imperialism stand in our way," Sirisena said, without naming any country.

"The current crisis is the result of the concern by the world powers over the affairs of our country due to Sri Lanka's geographical importance or its location in the world map,"Sirisena was quoted by Daily Mirror as saying at a gathering in his home base Polonnaruwa on Sunday.

"This is an issue between those who believe in foreign thinking and those who respect local values", Sirisena said.

Sirisena said that he would accept whatever the Supreme Court's ruling on the petitions filed against the gazette notification issued by him to dissolve Parliament.

"I look forward to the constitutional interpretation of the Supreme Court. Whatever it may be, I will take future political decisions accordingly, to the best interest of our motherland, not to the benefit of any person, group or party," the president tweeted earlier on Sunday.

His remarks were apparently aimed at the United National Party, with whom Sirisena was running the national unity government since 2015.

The partnership ended on October 26 when Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe, who is the leader of UNP, triggering a never-before-seen political stand-off in the island nation.

Since firing Wickremesinghe, Sirisena has highlighted the "shortcomings" of Wickremesinghe in a bid to justify his sacking and dissuade his reinstatement.

The president has already said he has no intention of making Wickremesinghe Prime Minister again no matter what the outcome of the case is.

Both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa claim to be the prime ministers. Wickremesinghe says his dismissal is invalid because he still holds a majority in the 225-member Parliament.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has officially conveyed that the House does not recognise Rajapaksa as the legal prime minister until he proved his majority in the House.

The United National Front (UNF) coalition led by Wickeremesinghe has moved three motions of no trust against Rajapaksa. However, he refused to step down. Prior to the crisis, Wickramasinghe's party UNP had the backing of 106 parliamentarians, while Rajapaksa and Sirisena combine had 95 seats.

Rajapaksa has, so far, failed to prove his majority in Parliament.

Wickremesinghe, with the support from the main Tamil party, claims to have the support of more than 113 legislators, required for simple majority.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has 16 seats in the house and JVP has six legislators.

Sirisena has said due to sharp personal differences with Wickremesinghe, he would not reappoint him as the prime minister.

However, the UNP claims that Sirisena will be left with no other choice as Wickremesinghe would be the man who will command the confidence in the House.

Violent scenes were witnessed in Parliament last month as it went on to approve motions which proved that Rajapaksa lacked majority.

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