Sri Lanka Speaker rejects call to remove Tamil opposition leader

ECONOMYNEXT – Parliamentary Speaker Karu Jayasuriya Friday rejected a demand to take away the Leader of the Opposition post from Tamil National Alliance chief R. Sampanthan.

Jayasuriya reading out his final decision, denied the demand of the “Joint Opposition”  to recognize them as the largest single opposition party in parliament  and give them MP Sampanthan’s position.

Jayasuriya said the  MPs who entered parliament as members of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) could not claim to be in the opposition while the UPFA remained part of the government of President Maithripala Sirisena.

Should the so called members of the Joint Opposition quit the UPFA, they will be entitled to be recognized as a separate entity  and  claim the opposition leader’s position.

UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardena said they had the support of over 70 MPs as opposed to Sampanthan whose TNA had only 16 and therefore he (Gunawardena) should be the Leader of the Opposition.

Jayasuriya cited Westminster parliamentary tradition and said he was ruling that there was no grounds for the “JO” to claim the leader of the opposition position while remaining in a party that was a constituent on the government.

JO MPs do not want to quit the UPFA because that could lead to their expulsion from the party and eventually from parliament. (COLOMBO, August 10, 2018)

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