BY Buddhika Samaraweera
Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) Leader Sajith Premadasa and Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena engaged in a heated argument yesterday (20) in Parliament, with Premadasa claiming that Abeywardena had stated that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was willing to resign if all party leaders in Parliament make a unanimous request, and Abeywardena denying having made any such statement.
Speaking in Parliament, Premadasa said: “During the Party Leaders’ meeting, Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said that if all the party leaders in this House make a request, the President is ready to resign. If that is so, we are ready to make such a request.”
He stated that if the Speaker provides them the opportunity, all the leaders of the Opposition parties are ready to unanimously make such a statement.
However, addressing Parliament yesterday afternoon, Abeywardena stated that reports claiming the President had told him that he (the President) was ready to resign were completely false. He claimed that Premadasa had misinterpreted a matter discussed at the Party Leaders’ meeting.
“What I said was that the President said that he is ready to hand over the Government if any party has the support of 113 MPs. So please get 113 MPs and go there. However, even all 225 MPs do not have the power to ask the President to resign.”
At this point, Premadasa replied to Abeywardena: “You said that even when Leader of the House Dinesh Gunawardena was in front of me. If you’re saying that you did not say such a thing now, I have to tell you that you are lying. We were also surprised when you said that. Why should I come here and lie? If you made a mistake, then accept it. But I came here and said what you said. Do not lie like this. You are not a Speaker, you are a liar.”
He further added that Abeywardena was insulting the Speaker’s seat, adding that he would not withdraw his own statement regarding the statement made by Abeywardena during the Party Leaders’ meeting.
However, Abeywardena continued to say that he had not made such a statement at the Party Leaders’ meeting, claiming that it was not himself, but Premadasa, who was lying.
A large number of protests are currently being held on a daily basis throughout the country, demanding a reduction in the rising cost of living and a solution to the shortage of goods. As these issues have escalated in recent times, protests are now being held demanding that President Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and the current Government resign. Also, thousands of people are currently engaged in a protest at Galle Face Green with the demonstration marking its 13th consecutive day today (21).