Speaker Karu Jayasuriya gives ruling:


Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday ruled out any changes to the Opposition Leader’s post in Parliament reinforcing the legitimacy of TNA Leader R. Sampanthan holding the post.

Making a special announcement at the commencement of sittings yesterday, the Speaker said that his final decision is that the Constitutionality and Parliament tradition does not warrant any change in the post of Opposition Leader.

The Speaker however assured that he would allocate more time and grant more space in Parliamentary Committees for the Joint Opposition (JO) to be fair with the numbers it is representing.

The Speaker’s ruling was with reference to the JO’s special written request on August 1 to offer the Opposition Leader post to JO Parliamentary Group Leader Dinesh Gunawardena. The JO demanded the post claiming that it had the support of 70 MPs.

The Speaker in a detailed statement said his ruling was after a the careful study of the composition of current Parliament and international best practices. He said all arguments made on the floor of the House last Tuesday on the post of Opposition Leader and opinions of experts on Parliamentary democracy were considered in arriving at his final decision.

The Speaker made it clear that the Opposition Leader post must be held by a person who is not from a political party now in the Government. He pointed to the Parliamentary Resolution adopted on September 3, 2015 which clearly states that the UNP and UPFA are partners of a National Government.

The Speaker pointed out the context in which MP Nimal Siripala de Silva served as the Opposition Leader during the interim period after January 8, 2015 was different to the present context as there had not been such a Parliamentary Resolution of a National Government then.

He explained that the Parliamentary Group Leader of a recognized political party that does not represent the Government and has the highest number of seats is the rightful owner of the Opposition Leader post.

He noted that Sri Lankan and UK Parliamentary tradition as well as precedence are clear in this regard.

However, MPs Dinesh Gunwardena, Chandima Weerakkody and Dullas Alahapperuma spoke against the Speaker’s decision, but the Speaker said that his ruling should be considered final and thus it cannot be debated.

MP Alahapperuma questioned whether the Speaker will change the decision if the JO MPs leave the UPFA and become independent. Leader of the House and Minister Lakshman Kiriella replied that the JO MPs should first become independent for the House to consider such a request.




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