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Sri Lanka's President Dissolves Parliament


Spokesman says election commission will decide when to hold the election for a new parliament.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has dissolved his country's parliament, clearing the way for legislative elections two months ahead of schedule.

A government spokesman said the presidential order takes effect at midnight Tuesday. He said the election commission will decide when to hold the election for a new parliament.

The announcement comes a day after the arrest of the defeated main opposition presidential candidate and former army chief, Sarath Fonseka. On Tuesday, the government said it is planning to court-martial Fonseka as a traitor and conspirator against President Rajapaksa.

Mr. Rajapaksa easily defeated Fonseka in last month's contentious presidential election, but the retired general has refused to concede defeat. Officials say he faces a court-martial for getting involved in politics before his military retirement last November, and for stating that he would testify about war crimes committed against the Tamil Tigers.

Fonseka's family says it has not been able to contact him since he was arrested at the offices of a political opposition group Monday. The government insists he has access to legal representation and to his family.

Fonseka lost last month's election to President Rajapaksa by an 18 percent margin, but he and his allies have alleged the polls were rigged. The Sri Lankan election commissioner has said there is no evidence of any tampering.

Since then, the former army chief and the president have traded conspiracy allegations, including claims that they have plotted to have their rival killed.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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