President Maithripala Sirisena signed a decree dismissing the island's 225-member assembly and scheduled parliamentary elections for January 5, almost two years ahead of schedule.
Sirisena signed an official notification dismissing the 225-member assembly with effect from midnight, clearing the way for a snap election almost two years ahead of schedule. The party also accused Sirisena of robbing the "people of their rights and democracy".
However, the UNP - whose numbers declined from 106 to 98 amid defections - gained an edge when the Tamil National Alliance, a coalition of 15 legislators representing the country's ethnic Tamil minority, said it would back a motion to oust newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Cabinet of Ministers sworn in will serve as a caretaker government.More news: Historic filming location for HBO's Westworld burns down in Cali wildfire
The party said in a Twitter message that it will meet the elections commissioner to discuss the constitutionality of Sirisena's move.
According to the relevant Gazette, the fifth day of January 2019 has been fixed as the date for the election of the Members of Parliament. At least eight have switched sides, but at least 120 deputies in the 225-seat parliament remain loyal to Wickramasinghe.
Sirisena had suspended the assembly's work until mid-November when first moving against his prime minister.
Under pressure from the United Nations, United States and the European Union to allow a parliament vote, Sirisena agreed three times to lift the suspension but changed his mind each time. "We will fight this dictator to the end".More news: Umesh, Bumrah, Kuldeep rested for final T20I against WI
The EU said on Friday, before the dissolution, that the crisis had scarred the Indian Ocean island's worldwide reputation.
Wickremesinghe insists he holds a majority in parliament and has refused to vacate his position while Rajapaksa - a former strongman who ruled as president between 2005 and 2015 - enjoys widespread support for ending the country's brutal 26-year civil war.
On Thursday Wickremesinghe thanked his supporters and urged them not to give up in the showdown.More news: Rams' Marcus Peters to Saints' Sean Payton: 'Keep talking'