Missing Bhikku parliamentarians attend new Parliament opening
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 April 2004, 04:50 GMT]
The first session of the thirteenth Parliament of Sri Lanka began Thursday morning around 10 am in a tense atmosphere to elect its sixteenth Speaker since independence.
The two Bhikku parliamentarians of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) who were reported to be missing for the last few days were present in parliament Thursday and took their seats in the opposition benches.
The Prime Minister Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse proposed the name of Mr.D.E.W.Gunasekara for the post of Speaker on behalf of the government and Mr.Wimal Weerawanse of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP); a constituent of the UPFA seconded it.
The former Speaker Mr.Joseph Michael Perera proposed the name of the former Law and Justice Minister Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara for the post of Speaker on behalf of the United National Front and was seconded by the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Mr.Rauff Hakim. The election was held by secret ballot and the counting of votes is in progress, parliamentary sources said.
Meanwhile the twenty-two-member Tamil National Alliance parliamentary group decided few minutes before the ceremonial opening of the new parliament to vote for the UNF candidate Mr.Lokkubandara in the Speaker's election, parliamentary sources said.
The names of fifteen Speakers in past follow:
- Sir Francis Molamure (October 1947 to January 1951 till his death)
- Sir Albert Peiris (February 1951-April 1952, June 1952 to February 1956, 1965-1967)
- Mr.H.S.Ismail (1956-1959)
- Mr.T.B.Subasinghe (March 1960- April 1960)
- Mr.R.S.Pelpola (1960-1964)
- Mr. Hugh Fernando (January 1964-December 1964)
- Mr.Shirely Corea (1967-1970)
- Mr.Stanely Tilakeratne (1970-1977)
- Dr.Ananda Tissa de Alwis (1977-1978)
- Mr.Abdul Bakeer Markar (1978-1983)
- Mr.E.L.Senanayake (1983-1989)
- Mr.M.H.Mohamed (1989-1994)
- Mr. K.B.Ratnayake (1994-2000)
- Mr.Anura Bandaranaike (2000-2001)
- Mr.Joseph Michael Perera (2001-2004)
Before the country gained independence in 1948, Sir Francis Molamure (July 1931 till December 1934), and Mr.F.A.Obeyasekara (from December 1934 till December 1935) served as the Speakers of the First State Council. Sir Vaitilingam Doraisamy (from March 1936 to July 4, 1947) served as the Speaker of the Second State Council, sources said.