By Chandani Kirinde and Ashwin Hemmathagama
The Tri-Forces Guard of Honour including the 21-gun salute which was to be part of the ceremonial sitting of the new Parliamentary session which begins today was halted on the request of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, official sources said.
As part of the usual procedure followed when a new session of the House is opened after a prorogation, the Tri-Forces Guard of Honour had been included as part of the day’s ceremonies but was cancelled at the last minute.
“The President did not want this part of the ceremonial sitting so instead we will have a semi-ceremonial session of the House,” an official who wished to remain anonymous said.
The armed forces had readied for their role in the ceremonial sitting since last morning and the guns used for the salute also brought to the Parliament Grounds but were later removed after the President requested that this be excluded from the day’s program.
Hence there will be a simplified program with the President being received at the entrance to the House by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya and Parliamentary officials, followed by the hoisting of the National Flag as well as the singing of Jayamangala Gatha.
The Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayaka will read out the Proclamation issued by the President proroguing Parliament and summoning the Meeting at the inception which will be followed by the address by the President.
Sittings will be suspended after the President’s address and are scheduled to resume at 1 p.m.
The First Session of the First Parliament was held on 14 October 1947. It was ceremonially opened and presided over by Governor Sir Henry Monck-Mason Moore. He delivered the throne speech, which was debated by Parliament and passed by a vote of thanks.
The Third Session of the Second Parliament was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II. She ceremonially inaugurated the session on 12 April 1954.
With the enactment of the new Constitution in 1978, the Government’s policy statement given by the President replaced the throne speech at the beginning of the new sessions.