Pandemonium reigns in SL parliament, UPFA MPs grab ballot box
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 April 2004, 09:04 GMT]
Pandemonium reigns in Sri Lanka's thirteenth parliament in electing its sixteenth Speaker when the re-poll commenced around 2.20 p.m. Thursday as ordered by the Secretary General Ms Priyani Wijesekara. As the UPFA parliamentarians seated surrounding the Speaker's Chamber keeping the ballot box with them and some sitting on the ballot box they earlier grabbed from the parliamentary staff the Secretary General of the parliament is still struggling to bring the tense situation under control, sources said.
Pandemonium broke out when a woman United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian showed her ballot paper to one of the contestant Mr.Lokkubandara before casting her vote during the second poll. Thereafter several UPFA members started shouting in high tone and walking here and there in the well of the house and casting remarks. A group of ruling UPFA parliamentarians rushed to the well of the house and grabbed the ballot box and seated on the floor surrounding the Speaker's Chamber keeping the ballot box with them. Some UPFA parliamentarians are seen sitting on the ballot box, parliamentary media sources said
Meanwhile leaders of the ruling UPFA are seen holding talks with the Jathika Hela Urumaya leaders inside the parliament, sources said.
The Secretary General of the parliament has ordered the re-poll as the candidates of the UPFA and UNP Messrs D.E.W.Gunasekara and Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara respectively received 108 each with one vote being rejected and seven abstentions, sources said.
An attempt made by the leaders of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to bring a consensus between the UPFA and UNP by withdrawing one party from the Speaker's election did not succeed, parliamentary sources said.