Sri Lanka to discipline two brawling MPs

ECONOMYNEXT – A parliamentary investigation has named two members as being responsible for physical violence that seriously injured one and hurt several others on the floor of the House, officials said.

A report by deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala found that UNP’s Palitha Thewarapperuma and UPFA’s Prasanna Ranaweera were responsible for Tuesday‘s punch up.

According to the parliamentary privileges act, they can be suspended from parliament for a maximum period of one month, which means they cannot attend sittings for about seven days in the normal course of parliament.

Contrary to reported claims by police Inspector General Pujith Jayasundara that they will investigate the brawl in parliament, officials said there was no provision for the police to get involved.

"Anything that happens within the precincts of parliament can be addressed only by the parliament itself," an official familiar with the privileges act said.

He said there was no precedent for inviting the police to investigate any conduct of MPs inside parliament and there was not going to be any change in the well-preserved tradition.

Parliament erupted in brawls between rival lawmakers on Tuesday after ex-army chief Sarath Fonseka announced that a bomb blast apparently targeting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa 10 years ago was an "inside job".

MPs from Sri Lanka’s ruling party traded blows with those loyal to former president Mahinda Rajapaksa who became enraged after Fonseka said the 2006 bombing was aimed at winning sympathy.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said several lawmakers were injured and MP Sandith Samarasinghe was later taken to hospital suffering a black eye after the worst melee seen in the legislature house in 12 years.

In June 2004, the then-government MPs led by Mervyn Silva attacked JHU Buddhist monk MP Kolonnawe Sumangala who suffered a serious penile injury and was hospitalised for days.

Following Tuesday‘s fighting, the Speaker adjourned the assembly till today.

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(COLOMBO, May 4, 2016)

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