Ronnie de Mel joins PA again
[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 July 2000, 12:10 GMT]
A senior Sri Lankan opposition Parliamentarian joined the ranks of the government Thursday afternoon. Mr. Ronnie de Mel who served as minister of finance for eleven years from 1977 when the United National Party was in power in Sri Lanka has joined the government amidst speculation that a group of opposition MPs may cross over so as to enable the ruling People's Alliance to secure a two thirds majority in Parliament necessary for amending the constitution and prolonging the life of the national legislature sans the elections that are due between August and November this year.
Mr.Ronnie de Mel, opposed the decision of the UNP to vote against the extension of the State of Emergency. Speaking in the Parliament today Mr.Ronnie de Mel said that it is unpatriotic and anti-communal, considering the present situation, to vote against the resolution to extend the Emergency at this juncture.
He said therefore there would not be an alternative other than voting for the motion and called on the UNP MPs to do the same taking into consideration the real situation.
He added that it has become a national responsibilty to ensure the continuation of the Emergency by giving priority to the country before politics. The state of Emergency should essentially be extended to empower the security forces to curb terrorist activities before the forthcoming general election.
Mr.Mel stressed that the UNP's decision to vote against the motion was wrong and would be an assistance to the terrorists and against the security forces.
After his speech there was an uproar in the chamber of House when UNP Parliamentarian Mr.Tyronne Fernando told the Speaker that several other UNP MPs were billed to air their views.
Speaker Mr.K.B.Ratnayake however informed Parliament that Mr.Ronnie de Mel was to wind up the debate for the opposition and the Deputy Minister for Defence General Anurudha Ratwatte for the government. Several UNP Parliamentarians insisted that Mr.Ronneie de Mel's name was not included in the list of UNP speakers. Thereafter government and opposition parliamentarians gathered in front of the Speaker's chair and pandemonium then prevailed. The motion to extend the State of Emergency was the passed without a vote being taken at around 5 p.m.
Mr. Mel was a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) when it was in power in the 70s. He crossed over to the UNP on the eve of the 1977 general elections. He crossed over to the PA (the chief constituent of which is the SLFP) in 1990 but joined the UNP again in 1994.