- Wimal Weerawansa gets two-week suspension while Prasanna Ranaweera is slapped with four weeks
By Ashwin Hemmathagama Our Lobby Correspondent
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended the UPFA Joint Opposition group lawmakers Wimal Weerawansa and Prasanna Ranaweera for two weeks and four weeks, respectively, as they were found guilty of unruly behaviour in Parliament.
Suspended members will not be allowed to be in the Chamber during sittings and to take part in Parliamentary activities during the period, starting yesterday.
Soon after the House commenced the ordinary business of the day, Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandy City Development and Leader of the House of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella moved the motions, which proposed suspending the two members as per the disciplinary enquiries conducted by the Parliament Privileges and Ethics Committee in par with the new Standing Orders and the Code of Conduct.
The Committee has decided the two members were guilty of unruly behaviour during the tense situation in the House of Parliament on 3 July when the controversial statement of former Minister UNP MP Vijayakala Maheswaran allegedly supporting terrorism came up.
Challenging the decision of the Committee, the JO called for divisions for both the motions. The motion on the suspension of MP Ranaweera received 41 votes for and 21 votes against. A total of 162 MPs were absent at the time of the vote including the JVP MPs. The JO and SLFP Group of 16 MPs voted against.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and former President turned Parliamentarian Mahinda Rajapaksa were also present. Following the passage of the motion, MP Ranaweera was ordered to leave the Chamber before the next vote on MP Weerawansa. JO frontliner MP Weerawansa was not seen in the Chamber yesterday. The motion against Weerawansa was passed with 39 votes for and 21 against.
A formal complaint regarding the incident on 3 July was made in the House by Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera on 4 July, highlighting their use of foul language, their aggressive behaviour, and threatening the Chair. The new Standing Orders of Parliament that came into effect on 15 April have provisions to impose four weeks’ suspension on any MP who touches the Mace during the sittings. On 5 May 2016, MP Prasanna Ranaweera and Deputy Minister Palitha Thewarapperuma were suspended from Parliament for a week for misbehaving in the House. On 8 March 2017, Joint Opposition Parliamentary Group Leader MP Dinesh Gunawardena was suspended from Parliament for a week for disobeying and disregarding the authority of the Chair.
Ministers Tilak Marapana, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Gayantha Karunathilaka, Mano Ganesan and Faiszer Musthapha, MPs Susil Premajayantha, Douglas Devananda, Anura Dissanayake, E. Saravanapavan, and Shanthi Sri Skandarasa are the members of the Privileges and Ethics Committee.