Battle lines drawn for election of Sri Lanka's Speaker

[TamilNet, Sunday, 11 April 2004, 15:10 GMT]
Battle lines are drawn by the two major political parties, the United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the United National Party (UNP), which have failed to obtain absolute majority in the general election on April 2, to show their strength when the thirteenth parliament is scheduled to meet on April 22 to elect the Speaker, political sources said.

The UNP, which only obtained 82 seats in the new parliament, has decided to field its former Law and Justice Minister Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara against UPFA nominee for the post of Speaker. The UPFA parliamentary strength is 105, sources said.

The UNP hopes the five parliamentarians of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and one solitary member of the Upcountry People's Front (UPF), who were elected on district proportional system, would support Mr.Lokkubandara's candidature in the Speaker contest. The UNP has sought the support of the TNA parliamentarians. Even then, the UNP needs the support of three more members to muster 113, parliamentary sources said.

The Jathika Hela Urumaya ( JHU) with nine seats in the new parliament has said that it would decide on this issue at the appropriate time.

The UPFA, which has formed a minority government earlier decided to field a former Prime Minister ( Mr.Ratnasiri Wickremanayake), for the post of Speaker. However, the UPFA leadership is likely to select another person for the post of Speaker as Mr.Wickremanayake has been excluded in the national list of parliamentarians, sources said.

The former Prime Minister and the leader of the UNP, Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe, during the weekend had requested the parliamentary group leader of the Tamil National Alliance, Mr.R.Sampanthan, to extend support to his candidate in the Speaker's election, sources said.

The TNA parliamentary group would decide on this subject when it meets next week in Colombo, Mr.Sampanthan said

Mr.Sampanthan met with Mr.Ranil Wickremasinghe at the latter's invitation in Colombo before returning to Trincomalee during the weekend. They discussed in detail about the political situation after the general election, sources said.

 

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