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Friday July 1st, 2022

Sri Lanka former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe claims no deal with ruling Rajapaksa family

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday (06) denied allegations that he had made deals with the ruling Rajapaksa family and thrown his weight behind the government-backed candidate for the post of deputy speaker.

A statement made in parliament on Thursday (05) by Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP Shanakiyan Rasamanickam that Wickremesinghe had canvassed for Ranjith Siyambalapitiya, the government-backed deputy speaker candidate, was false, the former PM told parliament on Friday.

Wickremesinghe said his support for Siyambalapitiya was conditional, in that he had pledged his support to Siyambalapitiya as long as he contested for the post from the opposition benches rather than the government benches setting a new precedent. Once he had given his word, said Wickremesinghe, there was no reason to go back on it.

Parliament re-elected Siyambalapitiya as deputy speaker on Thursday with 148 out of 225 MPs voting in favour of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) member.

Siyambaliapitya had been bouncing back and forth between the deputy speaker position since early April, and his re-election followed his latest resignation that was accepted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on May 03. Rival candidate Imitiaz Bakeer Makar, who was nominated by the main opposition the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) received only 65 votes.

Related:

Sri Lanka parliament re-elects govt-backed Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as deputy speaker

TNA MP Rasamanickam’s allegation has resulted in a protest to be held on Saturday (07) outside Wickremesinghe’s 5th Lane private residence planned by ordinary citizens mobilised via social media.

The former prime minister claimed people were now preparing to surround his house based on this “false accusation”. He has no problem if people want to demonstrate against him, but it is wrong to use parliament speeches to threaten people, he said

One of the organisers of the protest claimed on Twitter that her sister who works at a radio station owned by Wickremesinghe’s family had asked her not to report to work. She has since been asked to come back to work following a backlash, the organiser said in a tweet Friday afternoon.

The whole country has turned against parliamentarians in the wake of the deputy speaker “performance”, he said. People are accusing MPs of wasting an entire day of parliament over petty agendas and have lost sight of the larger problems facing the country.

Wickremesinghe was also quick to note that MP Rasamanickam was originally a member of the Rajapaksa-led United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) when he obtained the organiser post for the Paddiruppu electorate in Batticaloa from then President Mahinda Rajapaksa in February 2013.

The UNP leader said he had never made a deal with the Rajapaksas, and claimed that the Rajapaksas, on the other hand, had a deal with the separatist Tamil Tigers to defeat him at the 2005 presidential election. (Colombo/May06/2022)

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