Speaker says he received death threats over ‘joint opposition’ request to sit independently

Thursday, 11 February 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Insists ‘joint opposition’ must decide if it will break from SLFP or not before he can recognise them as separate opposition group 

By Ashwin Hemmathagama – Our Lobby Correspondent

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya who is under fire from the pro-Rajapaksa ‘joint opposition’ group for refusing to permit its MPs to sit independently in Parliament, told the House yesterday that he had received death threats over the telephone in connection with the controversial question.

‘Joint Opposition’ MPs led by MEP Leader Dinesh Gunewardane created a major ruckus in Parliament on Tuesday, demanding to be allowed to sit independent of the UPFA core group in the House.

In a special statement yesterday, Speaker Jayasuriya said that he had received death threats on Tuesday night. “Several calls were received criticising my actions and threatening to kill me. But I am not scared of these threats. I am quite used to death threats. But please stop threatening the officials of Parliament who are only Government servants doing their job,” the Speaker charged.

He told the ‘joint opposition’ that he could only rule on the group’s independence once he decided whether or not it was planning to break away from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. “I am unable to recognise you separately as an opposition group until you make this decision first,” the Speaker explained.

 Speaker Jayasuriya said he had studied the pro-Rajapaksa faction’s request from different angles. “I have considered similar situations in foreign Parliaments, the legal background to your issue and the traditions followed in Sri Lanka. Even though six political parties entered Parliament by elections there are 17 political parties functioning inside the House,” he said.

The Speaker clarified that the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was a part of the UPFA.

“Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva has explained the position of the agreement signed between the SLFP and the UNP. According to him, if there are any other political parties heading in a different direction they should exit from the UPFA,” the Speaker added.