Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa saiys Deputy Speaker Election vote exposed the nexus between the SLFP/SLPP dissidents and the ruling party.


Chandani Kirinde

Ranjith Siyam-balapaiaya was re-elected as Deputy Speaker in a secret ballot held in parliament yesterday with 148 MPs voting for him and 65 for the Samagi Jana Balawegaya nominee Imtiaz Bakeer Markar. Siyambalapitiya’s name was proposed by MP Nimal Siripala De Silva and seconded by Susil Premajayanth while Bakeer Markar was nominated by SJB MP Ranjith Maddumabandara and seconded by Chief Opposition Whip Lakshman Kiriella.

A secret vote was held to elect the Deputy Speaker with a ballot box placed in the Well of the House and MPs casting their ballot after each one’s name was called out. The votes were subsequently counted by parliamentary officials and the results announced by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.

Siyambalapitiya won by a majority of 83 votes while three votes were spoiled. Eight MPs including Mayantha Dissanayake, S. Nohathalingam, Udikka Premaratne, Imran Maharoof, C.V. Vigneswaran, Wimal Weerawansa, R. Sampanthan and John Seneviratne were absent during the vote.

The decision of the SJB to field a candidate of their own at the last minute after agreeing with the SLFP-SLPP dissident group to back Siyambalapitya led to friction between the two groups who are in negotiations to come to an agreement to get the No-Confidence Motion against the Government passed in Parliament.

The last-minute decision to field a SJBcandidate came after Foreign Minister G.L. Peries, who is also the Chairman of the SLPP, said his party would not field a candidate but would support Siyambalapitya whose name was proposed by the SLFP. SJG General Secretary MP Ranjith Madduma Bandara said as the Government had said it is backing the SLFP candidate, the SJB is nominating Bakeer Markar as their candidate.

Siyambalapitiya who spoke after his election said he had decided to resign from his post after the SLFP MPs quit their Cabinet and other ministerial portfolios and sat in opposition. “I could have stayed on as Deputy Speaker after those in my party gave up their portfolios, but I wanted to show my support for what they were advocating,” said Siyambalapitiya.

Siyambalapitiya said that the entire opposition including the SJB had agreed to support him but had changed their mind last morning. “I wanted to be a symbol of unity among all the opposition MPs, but the SJB wasted that opportunity and betrayed the people who are protesting in the streets today,” said Siyambalapitiya.

Siyambalapiaitya said he will continue to be an opposition MP while being the Deputy Speaker. “The SLFP and the independent group will remain in the opposition though it voted together with the SLPP in electing a new Deputy Speaker,” said Siyambalapitiya.

Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa said that the vote exposed the nexus between the SLFP/SLPP dissidents and the ruling party. “It is clear to all the people outside of the political games that are happening here,” said Premadasa.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said that both the nominees for post of the Deputy Speaker came from the opposition. “If the Government had named a nominee, they could have shown they had majority support, but they lost the chance. The people are telling only the Rajapaksas to go home. They are not saying to send all the SLPP MPs home. We have to work together,” said Ranil Wickremesinghe.

TNA Batticaloa District MP Shanakiyan Rajaputhiran Rasamanickam accused UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe of back-room manoeuvring to get votes for Siyambalapitiya. “He is in the opposition, but he was asking everyone to vote for Siyambalapitiya. The drama that is being enacted inside the House is very clear. Today only 65 MPs are there for Sri Lanka while 148 MPs are for the Rajapaksas,” he said.

Courtesy:Daiily FT