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Sri Lanka's crisis deepens as parliamentary speaker cries 'coup'

Sirisena faces test in poll after weeks of rule by presidential fiat

Security officers try to control a crowd pushing toward the main stage during a rally by Sri Lanka's newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Maithripala Sirisena, in Colombo on Nov. 5.    © Reuters

BANGKOK -- As Sri Lanka's political crisis enters its third week, fears of a violent showdown between the executive and the legislature are gaining ground, as the speaker of the parliament accused the president of staging a "constitutional coup." The confusion in the island nation is setting the stage for an unprecedented clash that will further destabilize the strategically located Indian Ocean nation.

The political fault line has widened in the wake of President Maithripala Sirisena sticking to his guns to rule the country by presidential fiat since Oct. 26, when he fired incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and shut the doors of parliament to prevent lawmakers from determining through a vote if his new administration enjoys a majority in the 225-member parliament.

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