Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has dissolved parliament to clear the way for legislative elections, a day after authorities arrested a key opposition figure.
A government spokesman said the presidential order takes effect at midnight Tuesday, nearly two months ahead of schedule. A senior aide said elections for a new parliament will be held in early April.
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 election, but the retired general has refused to concede defeat.
Officials say Fonseka 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 Tiger rebels.
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 18 percentage points, but the retired general and his allies allege the polls were rigged. The Sri Lankan election commissioner said there is no evidence of any tampering.
Since the election, the former army chief and the president have traded conspiracy allegations, including claims that each had plotted to have the other killed.