Written by Staff Writer
06 Dec, 2019 | 10:38 pm
Colombo (News 1st): Civil as well as political activists, have raised concerns on the process of appointing an opposition leader, questioning if giving the post to Sajith Premadasa was to buy more time to protect the Party Leadership.
They claim, the Speaker taking time until the 03rd of January to officially announce he accepts Sajith Premadasa as the Opposition Leader, gives more reasons to raise doubts. It was UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who had proposed Sajith Premadasa to be made the Opposition Leader when the UNP Parliamentary Group convened last afternoon.
It was announced that the proposal was unanimously approved and UNP General Secretary Akila Viraj Kariyawasam informed the speaker about it. The Speaker in a statement said he accepted Sajith Premadasa as Opposition Leader as per the letter issued by the UNP General Secretary.
However, the speaker added, the official announcement will only be made when Parliament begins a new session on the 3rd of January next year, following the President’s throne speech and after parliament reconvenes at 1:00 pm.
Parliament is due to begin its new session at 10:00 am on the 3rd of January next year, for the President’s throne speech. The statement released by the speaker last evening added, following discussions between the prime minister and Dinesh Gunewardena, both parties arrived at a consensus with regard to reconvening parliament at 1:00 pm.
However, civil and political activists point out, if required, the parliamentary proceedings could be postponed to another day, after the president’s throne speech. According to the speaker, if parliament is further postponed, the naming of the opposition leader will be further delayed.
Meanwhile, the constitutional council is scheduled to meet on the 12th of September to consider the nominations for a vacant seat in the court of appeal. The opposition leader by virtue of his office is a member of the constitutional council.
However even by 12:00 noon today Sajith Premadasa had not received notice to attend the meeting of the constitutional assembly.
Former General Secretary of UNP Tissa Attanayake noted that after the decision was reached unanimously there is no point in speaking about traditions and postponing this further. He added that he sees this as a violation of his constitutional duties because he has a constitutional duty, he will be a member of the constitutional council by virtue of his office. He noted that it would be wrong if he doesn’t attend the meeting because parliament has not announced it as yet.
Attanayake said if that is the case they cannot allow anyone else to attend the meeting in place of the opposition leader. He added that then the constitutional council is incomplete and the meeting must be postponed and it would be a violation of traditions if all the members of the constitutional council are not present. Therefore he said if the opposition leader has been appointed he must be invited to the meeting.
He went onto note that the Speaker had officially announced in parliament that he will accept Sajith Premadasa as the opposition leader. He believes that if anyone says that they have to wait until parliament convenes again or wait till parliament does something else that would be a mistake. He says that if the parliamentary sessions are postponed on that day itself this country will not have an opposition leader.
The Former UNP General Secretary said that is what will happen if they strictly adhere to all of these traditions. He went onto note;
“What if when parliament convenes on the 3rd, and after the president makes his speech in parliament, issues another gazette notification and prorogue parliament. That can be done. If that happens there will be no opposition leader in the country. That is what strict adherence to all of these traditions will lead to. I think this is a question of the opinion of the people. Everything should be decided based on the desires of the people.”
The seat of the opposition leader has not been reserved for Sajith Premadasa for when parliament convenes on the 3rd of January and the president delivers his throne speech. The general secretary of the United National Party said that if the UNP requests the seat of the opposition leader can be reserved.
Failing which seats will be arranged according to seniority. In a tweet previously the speaker said that he will accept the individual nominated for the position of opposition leader after the party internal discussions have concluded and he is notified of their decision.
The official decision of the United National Party which is the main party of the United National Front has now been communicated. However, the speaker now says that the opposition leader will be officially announced at noon on the 2nd of January.
Convener of the Left Centre Chameera Perera questioned; “There is a question as to if the decision regarding the opposition leader was a ruse, or was is done to kill time, or if it is even a death trap? because although the position is given, after the president’s speech if Parliament is prorogued for two months, or even if parliament is prorogued until the next election what can the opposition leader do? has he been given these powers?”
He noted that they wonder if this position of an opposition leader will be given at the last moment, just like how Sajith Premadasa was named as the presidential candidate after delaying the decision for months, he was only named as the presidential candidate just 35 days before the election. He said that this is only another trap for the people. He went onto note that this is not an issue concerning only Sajith Premadasa.
Perera noted that Ranil Wickremesinghe and this group who call themselves seniors of the party are preparing to betray the people, however, it can be clearly seen that this is just another trick to hoodwink the 5.5 million people who gave Sajith Premadasa a mandate. He pointed out that this is an attempt to push Sajith Premadasa to a corner and a scheme to cripple the campaign for the general election
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