Opposition split as confidence vote postponed

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 August 2002, 19:21 GMT]
Sri Lanka's opposition parties were divided Thursday on the postponement of the debate on the vote of confidence in the United National Front government. The Marxist Janata Vimukthi Peramuna protested the decision while the main opposition Peoples Alliance (PA) had requested the delay, to enable twenty more PA parliamentarians to attend.

When the Speaker informed the House that the debate on the vote of confidence scheduled for Thursday had been postponed with the agreement of party leaders, the leader of the JVP, Mr. Vimal Weerawanse said that his party disagreed.

Mr. Joseph Michael Perera, speaker at the commencement of parliament sittings Thursday informed the House that the agreement to delay had beenreached at a special meeting of the party leaders held Thursday morning at his chamber.

Mr. Weerawanse, who is also the JVP parliamentary group leader then rose and said that his was party was not in agreement with the decision reached at the party leaders meeting Thursday. He charged the government was trying to evadethe confidence vote that itself had proposed.

Mr. Weerawanse condemned every one who had prevented the debate and challenged the government to bring the confidence vote motion in parliament once again.

But Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, the opposition leader and leader of the PA said that on his request the government had agreed to postpone the debate for a later date to permit more than twenty PA parliamentarians to join the debate.

"The aim of my request is not to allow the government to get out of difficult situation but to accommodate the wish of about twenty PA parliamentarians to participate in the debate," stressed Mr. Rajapakse.

He reminded the House that it was the first time in the history of the country a government in power had moved a vote of confidence itself.

But Mr. Weerawanse said that he was of view that the leader of the opposition had knowingly or unwittingly fallen into a trap by the government by agreeing for a postponement of the debate.

The leader of the House and Law Minister Mr. W. J. M. Lokkubandara said that "it is ridiculous for the JVP to protest since the debate of the confidence vote motion has been postponed to allow more time for opposition parliamentarians."

Amid tension following heated arguments between JVP and government Parliamentarians the Speaker suddenly adjourned the house around 10.35 morning Thursday.

Later, addressing a press conference at the parliamentary complex, Mr. Weerawanse said if the government was sincere in allocating more time to parliamentarians to participate in the debate it should have opened the debate as scheduled Thursday and continued on another day. " If the government avoids having the debate, the JVP will demand that it be held", he stressed.

 

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