By Chandani Kirinde
The fallout from the United National Party’s (UNP) defeat at Saturday’s Presidential Election continued yesterday, with two groups within the party making a claim for the post of Opposition Leader, one backing current UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the other former Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa.
UNP Secretary General Akila Viraj Kariyawasam wrote to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday, nominating Wickremesinghe to the post of Opposition Leader, while MP Ajith Perera also submitted a letter to the Speaker with 45 signatures, recommending Premadasa for the post.
Both sides staked the claim to the post at the meeting of the Committee on Parliamentary Business, which was held under the patronage of the Speaker.
At the meeting, the Speaker explained that the process of naming an Opposition Leader does not come within the ambit of the Committee on Parliamentary Business, and that this is a matter that needs to be resolved within the UNP, as it is the party’s internal issue.
According to parliamentary tradition, the person who is recognised as the Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the political party which has the majority of members among opposition parties in the Legislature.
The UNP has 106 seats in Parliament, but has opted to sit in the Opposition, following the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. President Rajapaksa is backed by the UPFA, which has 95 seats as well as one EPDP member. Additionally, the ITAK, JVP, and the SLMC together have 23 seats.
Yesterday’s Committee on Parliamentary Business was attended by MPs Lakshman Kiriella, Dullas Alahapperuma, Rauff Hakeem, Ravi Karunanayake, Dinesh Gunawardena, Mahinda Amaraweera, Douglas Devananda, Mahinda Samarasinghe, Wimal Weerawansa, Nimal Siripala de Silva, Ameer Ali Shihabdeen, and Ajith. P. Perera.