Countdown begins for election of Sri Lanka’s Speaker
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 20 April 2004, 18:19 GMT]
The first meeting of the Sri Lanka’s thirteenth parliament is to be held on Thursday morning with the election of a new Speaker as the first item in the agenda
The two major political parties, the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and the United National Party (UNP), are actively engaged in garnering the support of small parties to prove their majority in the election of new Speaker, parliamentary sources said.
Both major parties now woo the support of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), which has nine parliamentarians, all members of Buddhist clergy, to support their candidates for the post of Speaker.
Meanwhile, the JHC Tuesday appealed to both major political parties to come to a consensus and field a common candidate for the post of Speaker. JHU parliamentary group would take its decision when more than one name is proposed on Thursday at the time of election, JHU parliamentarian Venerable Ratnsara Thera said at a press briefing held Tuesday in Colombo.
The UPFA with 106 seats has nominated Mr.D.E.W.Gunasekara of the Sri Lanka Communist Party, another constituent of the UPFA, for the post of Speaker. Mr. Gunasekara is one of the national list parliamentarians of the UPFA.
Meanwhile, the UNP with 82 seats has nominated its former Law and Justice Minister, Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara, to contest the post of Speaker, expecting the support of 22 Tamil National Alliance parliamentarians and six Sri Lanka Muslim Congress legislators, sources said.
The TNA’s spokesman said the party’s parliamentary group would meet Thursday in the parliamentary complex half an hour before the ceremonial opening of the new parliament and will decide on the Speaker issue, political sources said.
The parliamentary group of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) is scheduled to meet Wednesday to decide on the strategy to be adopted in the Speaker issue. CWC President and former minister, Mr.Arumugam Thondaman, returned to Colombo Sunday evening after a stay in Tamilnadu, sources said.