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Protest in Parliament premeditated by Joint Opposition


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By Skandha Gunasekara

Increasing the pressure on the Speaker to take disciplinary action, the Joint Opposition yesterday admitted to planning the protest that erupted when Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe presented the statement on the bond report to Parliament. 

Joint Opposition MP Udaya Gammanpilla told the Daily FT that the group had been unofficially informed that Speaker Karu Jayasuriya would not be tabling the bond report in Parliament despite agreeing to do so at a party leaders meeting the previous day. 

“Although we came to Parliament that day to debate the bond report on the promise made by the Speaker to table the report in the House, we received information from unofficial sources that the Speaker would not be tabling the report and instead the Prime Minister would be making a special statement. So we prepared for the worst case scenario and made placards in the event the report wasn’t tabled and the need to protest arose,” Gammanpila said.

He said the Joint Opposition was in shock when the Speaker failed to table the report.

“We couldn’t believe it; we were stunned that the Speaker did not keep his word. In the end the information we received was correct. We have had similar experiences in the past with this Government and we prepared for such a scenario upon the information we got and so we reluctantly protested when the Speaker allowed the Prime Minister to make his statement without tabling the report,” he said.

MP Gammanpilla asserted that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe had no reason to make a special statement. 

“He could have made a statement after tabling the report as is the norm. He had no reason to make a special statement in Parliament.”

Meanwhile, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya in a statement yesterday admitted that he had been notified by Parliament security that a group of MPs had planned in advance to carry out a protest. 

A Joint Opposition protest escalated into a bloody brawl during the special session of Parliament on 10 January. 

The Joint Opposition, which invaded the Well of the House when the Premier began making his statement, ended up clashing with UNP parliamentarians soon after the Prime Minister wound up his speech and the Speaker adjourned Parliament. 

Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala told the Daily FT last week that the Speaker would study the CCTV footage of the incident and decide at the next parliamentary sittings on 23 January what measures would be taken with regard to the conduct of the MPs in Parliament.

 


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