Battle lines drawn to prove parliamentary majority

[TamilNet, Monday, 21 June 2004, 14:49 GMT]
Opposition parliamentarians in the Sri Lanka's thirteenth parliament Monday handed over a memorandum to the Speaker Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara to safeguard the parliamentary democracy. 114 parliamentarians from the United National Party (UNP), Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and Upcountry Peoples Front (UPF) signed the memorandum, parliamentary sources said.

By handing over a joint memorandum to the Speaker the opposition parties are understood to be demonstrating their majority in the parliament thereby dictating terms to the ruling minority UPFA government in conducting its future parliamentary business, political sources said.

This is the first time in the history of Sri Lanka's parliament the opposition parties have formed a common front with the majority members of the House to oppose a minority government soon after it assumed power. Political analysts say this has posed a challenge to the minority United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government, which commands only 106 MPs in the 225 member strong parliament to carry out its legislative functions.

Later addressing a press conference to reveal the contents of the memorandum, Mr.Karu Jayasuriya, Deputy leader of the UNP, said the new parliament had met four times in three months after it was elected in the April 2nd poll. Parliament sessions have ended in pandemonium as minority government parliamentarians disrupted the proceedings as they failed to secure a majority to carry out parliamentary business in their favour, he said.

"However we would support all progressive polices of the UPFA government," said Mr.Karu Jayasuriya.

The number of parliamentarians signed the memorandum would increase to 116 from 114 once the two national list parliamentarians for the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) are appointed, Mr. Jayasuriya said.

Parliamentary group leader of the JHU, Venerable Ratana Ratnaseeha Thera said, "we have joined the common opposition to safeguard parliamentary democracy. However, each party in the common opposition will maintain its individual identity on national issues."

Meanwhile, Mr.Wimal Weerawanse, parliamentary group leader of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a constituent of the ruling UPFA government addressing a press conference separately said the number of UPFA parliamentarians have increased to 109 from 106. He expected some more parlimentarians to join the ruling party in the near future.

Mr.Weerawanse counted the three dissident SLMC parliamentarians with the ruling party, sources said. Parliamentarians Messrs Hussain Baila, Najeeb Abdul Majeed and Rishard Badiudin were expelled from the SLMC for violating party discipline and working against the party leadership. Their appeal to rejoin the party was also rejected by the SLMC politburo, sources said.

 

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