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Duleep Wijesekera sits with JO; PM questions move


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UPFA MP Duleep Wijesekera, who was stripped of all his ministerial portfolios on Friday, switched sides yesterday in Parliament when the Interim Report of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly was taken up for debate.

Wijesekera criticised the Unity Government’s efforts to bring in a new Constitution by obtaining permission to raise a Point of Order during the debate. Tearing up some papers on his table, Wijesekera crossed the Well to join the ranks of the UPFA Joint Opposition group. 

Wijesekera accused the Government of allegedly disregarding the advice of the Maha Sanga and moving forward with matters pertaining to the new Constitution. 

Wijesekera pleaded for forgiveness from the people for joining the Yahapalanaya Government and vowed to take his position with the rest of the JO to protest the new constitution and carry forward the ‘anti-UNP’ battle. 

The Gampaha District MP was the Deputy Minister of Post, Postal Services and Muslim Religious Affairs prior to his removal by President Maithripala Sirisena on Friday.

However, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, challenging the validity of Wijesekera’s remarks, said that “such action was invalid” according to tradition.

 “This is not a regular sitting of Parliament. The Speaker is not occupying his seat and the mace is also not there on the podium. Statements to cross over cannot be made in the absence of these two. Members should make the statements to cross over when the Speakers are in their seat and the mace is kept on the correct podium. If a member is not aware of these basic traditions, there is nothing left to say,” said the Prime Minister, who delved into his wide experience to explain parliamentary procedures.

Later during the day Wijesekera was seen handing over a letter to the Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawala. (AH)


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