Speaker sticks to his guns

Tuesday, 6 November 2018 00:06 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Emphatic he will not recognise new Government until majority is shown in Parliament
  • Speaker says will accept status quo of Parliament prior to MR’s appointment as PM
  • Cannot remain silent anymore in face of unprecedented crises faced by country
  • Says request by 116 MPs to reconvene Parliament soon is “extremely reasonable”
  • Events of last few days should not have happened in democratic society
  • Stops short of saying if he will summon Parliament on his own


Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced yesterday that he was accepting the status quo of Parliament that existed prior to the sudden appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on 26 October.

It is a volte force from last week, when the Speaker said he would recognise Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, as his name was Gazetted by President Maithripala Sirisena and officials in Parliament had to abide by the Gazette nomination.

In his hard-hitting statement released yesterday, Speaker Jayasuriya said the President had gone back on his word twice on the date on which he would reconvene Parliament, but had failed to honour his word, thus pushing the Speaker to step in to “restore stability in the country.”

Following is the full text of the statement released by the Office of the Speaker of Parliament:

Even though I have remained silent so far, at a time our motherland is embroiled in an unprecedented crisis, I consider it my paramount duty to act in accordance with my conscience for the protection of rights and privileges of the majority of the Members of Parliament (MP)s, including the Leader of the Opposition of Parliament, and the prevention of the destruction of democracy that we have safeguarded up to now.

I am of the opinion that the request submitted to me under the hand of 116 Members of Parliament of the United National Party, the Tamil National Alliance, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, stating that the decision made by His Excellency the President was unconstitutional and undemocratic, and they are not in agreement with this decision, and for Parliament be summoned forthwith, is extremely reasonable.

When I met His Excellency the President on 01st of November, he conveyed to me that he would pay attention to the request made by me to summon Parliament, and would brief me on the evening of that day itself.

Though it did not materialise as promised, he contacted me over the phone the following day around 10.30 a.m., and informed me that the Gazette notification proclaiming the summoning of Parliament on 07th November would be issued. During a meeting with the ambassadors of Japan, France, the USA and Afghanistan in the morning of the same day, His Excellency had reiterated that Parliament would be summoned on 5th November.

The Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa, too, confirmed during a meeting with a group of university teachers that the Parliament would be summoned on 5th November. If I am to follow the verbal assurance given by His Excellency the President, it is my duty as Speaker to summon Parliament by 7th November, and restore stability in the country. I consider it as the duty of His Excellency the President too to extend his support to me towards this end.

It is difficult for me to remain silent in the face of severe violation of democratic principles, forcible taking over of administration of media institutions and other public sector institutions, disregarding the moderate employees, and information to the effect that various perks and privileges are offered to Members of Parliament. 

At a time it has been brought to my attention by the majority that the lawful summoning of Parliament has been prevented, and the rights of the Members of Parliament have been usurped, in the name of justice and fair play, I have to make my stance known to the world.

As the majority is of the opinion that all changes made in the Parliament are undemocratic and contrary to conventions of Parliament, and as the majority of members in Parliament have requested that the status quo that existed before these changes were made be accepted, I am compelled to accept the status quo that existed previously, until such time that they and the new political alliance proves their majority in Parliament.

Finally, I wish to state that these events which should not have occurred in a democratic society is an unpleasant phenomenon that took place without the use of arms.