Speaker asks UNP to arrive at consensus on Opp. Leadership

Seemingly contradicting his position yesterday that he recognised United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as Opposition Leader, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya issued a statement today calling for the UNP to resolve its internal disagreements on the matter.

This is in the wake of a letter handed over to Jayasuriya yesterday with the signatures of 57 United National Front (UNF) parliamentarians requesting him to recognise former UNP deputy leader and defeated presidential candidate Sajith Premadasa as Opposition Leader.

According to a statement issued by the Speaker’s Office this morning, a response has been sent to UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam by the Speaker’s Office seeking clarification on the official position of the UNP on who in the party should be named Opposition Leader.

“The attention of the Secretary of the UNP was drawn to the letter I received last evening, signed by 57 MPs requesting the recognition of MP Sajith Premadasa as the Opposition Leader. The difference of opinion must be settled through dialogue and communicated to the Speaker duly,” Jayasuriya tweeted this morning.

This is in contrast to his tweet yesterday that he recognised Wickremesinghe as Leader of the Opposition “upholding established Parliamentary traditions that should not be violated.”

“While I empathise with the challengers too, it is best that a party’s internal disputes are settled from within,” he said.

In today’s statement, however, the Speaker noted that since two contradictory opinions have been expressed by the party regarding the matter, the Opposition MPs must hold discussions and arrive at a consensus, which must then be formally conveyed to the Speaker’s Office.

It is only then, he said, can he declare the name of the new Leader of the Opposition at the next parliamentary session, after which the position will come into effect.

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