By Chamodi Gunawardana
Three members of the Joint Opposition will leave for Geneva today to meet the General Secretary of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to discuss alleged difficulties faced by them in Parliament.
Speaking at a media briefing MP Dullas Alahapperuma said IPU General Secretary Martin Chungong has officially invited them to visit IPU’s head quarters in Geneva as a response to a Joint Opposition written complaint.
Last January the Joint Opposition complained to the IPU about the problems they faced in Parliament to allocate time when airing their views on critical issues and claimed they faced ‘step-motherly treatment.’ In a letter to Chungong the Joint Opposition has requested a meeting to discuss matters. Earlier the Joint Opposition lobbied to be recognised as the main Opposition in Parliament but was denied.
“Members of Parliament Bandula Gunawardena, Udaya Gammanpila and I expect to visit the IPU General Secretary on 31 March where we expect to highlight six main points during the discussion,” Alahapperuma said.
He added they will discuss that the opposition be recognised as the main Opposition, insufficient time allocation to address the House, the perceived disregard of the 53 MPs of the Joint Opposition, and the alleged image tarnishing of those MPs due to summoning by various Police institutions such as CID and FCID.
“We have already informed the Speaker about our visit and we expect the Government will realise our worth after the discussion,” he said.
Alahapperuma went on to say that the Joint Opposition considers this official invitation as international recognition.
“We believe the IPU has recognised us as a separate group in the Parliament and that will be the reason its General Secretary called us for a discussion. We think this was a one of the great achievements of the Joint Opposition,” he noted.
Alahapperuma refuted news reports that the Joint Opposition expects to visit the Geneva Human Rights Council to lodge complaints about the Government and said “We only visit Geneva to meet IPU’s General Secretary as I mentioned.”
The IPU is the first permanent forum established for political multilateral negotiations. It was created for individual parliamentarians in 163 countries to raise issues and hold discussions. Alahapperuma said the IPU acts as a trade union of parliamentarians.