A deputy minister who was sacked overnight by President Maithripala Sirisena attempted a symbolic crossing of the floor of parliament to defect to the opposition only to discover the assembly was not in session.
Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs Deputy Minister Duleep Wijesekera made a speech asking forgiveness from his voters for having joined President Sirisena’s faction of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).
He then made the dramatic move of taking a seat in the opposition ranks, only to be told by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe that parliament was not in session.
The mace, which is the symbol of authority of parliament, was also absent on Monday.
Monday’s meeting inside the parliament chamber was actually a meeting of the Constitutional Assembly where the Speaker moves down one step from his chair and sits among parliamentary officials.
Wickremesinghe queried if the sacked deputy minister was unaware of procedures of the House. He should have reserved his theatrics for a day when parliament is in session, the Premier noted.
There was intense speculation on why Wijesekera was sacked on Sunday night. One theory was that he was gong to announce his resignation on Monday and therefore the President struck a premptive blow by showing him the door.
Wijesekera tore up a copy of the interim report of the Constitutional Assembly in which he was also a member.