By Saman Indrajith
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had reaffirmed the recognition of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Opposition Leader of Parliament, Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri told Parliament yesterday.
Speaker Jayasuriya is currently attending the Conference of Speakers of Commonwealth Countries in Malta and the Deputy Speaker read out the Speaker’s announcements to the House at the commencement of sittings.
The Speaker has said: “Whether the seat of an MP has been vacated or not as per the law or the Constitution and whether any MP has lost or resigned from his party membership are not matters coming under the purview of the Speaker to decide as per the Constitution as well as Standing Orders of Parliament. Those matters must be decided by the courts of law.”
The Speaker has said that he received a letter from UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera on 19 Dec, 2018 informing him that the UPFA nominated former President Rajapaksa’s name for the post of the Opposition Leader.
The Speaker has also ruled out the request to appoint a Parliament Select Committee to look into the eligibility of former President Rajapaksa to hold the Opposition Leader post; he has stated that it is against the Parliamentary traditions and democratic principles to accept a motion presented by a majority group to look into internal matters of a minority group represented in Parliament.
The motion was presented by the UNP and the TNA. Following the Speaker’s announcement on 18 Dec. on the post of Opposition Leader, both the UNP and the TNA argued that former President Rajapaksa and his fellow MPs had ceased to be Members of Parliament as one month had lapsed since they left the SLFP to obtain membership of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna.
Former President Rajapaksa took up the Opposition Leader’s chair yesterday and TNA Leader R Sampanthan was absent. The Opposition Leader is also an ex-officio member of the Constitutional Council.