By Shamindra Ferdinando
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been recognised by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, MP, as the Leader of the Opposition, political sources said.
Loyalists of MP Sajith Premadasa requested the Speaker to recognise him as the Opposition Leader while UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, called for the appointment of Wickremesinghe to that post.
Sources said that Wickremesinghe had directed the party General Secretary to inform the Speaker of the decision.
Sources said that the Speaker had been left with no alternative but to accept the letter from the General Secretary of the party. The letter submitted on behalf of Premadasa contained 40 signatures.
A senior lawmaker told The Island that the UNP parliamentary group should have amicably settled the issue through internal discussions and then reached consensus with the constituents of the UNF. The Speaker should have been informed of a unanimous decision, sources said.
Parliament is scheduled to meet on Dec 03. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa could either summon or prorogue parliament.
UNP leader Wickremesinghe attended yesterday’s swearing in ceremony of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister at the Presidential Secretariat. Former President Maithripala Sirisena, too, attended the event with Wickremesinghe seated between Dinesh Gunawardena and former President Sirisena.
Sources said that the Premadasa Camp had failed to take into consideration that there were previous instances of the Speaker accepting the person named by the General Secretary of a party in case of disputes within political parties over the post of the Opposition Leader.