By Chandani Kirinde
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya yesterday said he would summon the IGP and other senior Police officials who were involved in the arrest of MP Patali Champika Ranawaka, and inform them on the need to adhere to parliamentary conventions when arresting a lawmaker.
The Speaker also said he would request the National Police Commission (NPC) to inquire into the manner in which the arrest was carried out.
Jayasuriya made these comments at the party leaders’ meeting held yesterday to decide on the agenda for 3 January, when there will be a ceremonial opening of the House by newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, followed by a Parliament sitting the same afternoon.
Parliament officials said the Speaker had been perturbed by the way Ranawaka was arrested without keeping the Speaker informed, as is the precedent set by Parliament when a MP is taken into custody. The Speaker was overseas when the arrest was made, but Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said that he too had been informed of the impending arrest only after the Police reached the MP’s home. Party leaders present at the meeting agreed with the Speaker’s concerns, and said it was important to ensure that MPs’ privileges are safeguarded.
The Speaker also requested UPFA representatives who were present at the meeting, namely Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, Nimal Siripala De Silva, Mahinda Amaraweera and Dulles Alahapperuma, to name two MPs to the posts of Leader of the House and Chief Government Whip.
UNP MP Sajith Premadasa will be named Leader of the Opposition when Parliament convenes in the afternoon on 3 January, after the conclusion of the ceremonial sitting. A Chief Opposition Whip too will be named that day.
Another party leaders’ meeting will be held on 3 January to decide on the business of the House, following which Parliament will meet from 1.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m. the same day. Regular Parliament sittings are scheduled to resume from 7 January.
In addition to the UPFA MPs, the meeting was held with the presence of Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri, MPs Sajith Premadasa, Rauff Hakeem, Mano Ganesan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Ajith P. Perera, and Niroshan Perera.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa prorogued Parliament on 2 December until 10.00 a.m. on 3 January, at which date and time the new session of the House will commence.