Uproar in parliament follows election of Speaker
[TamilNet, Thursday, 22 April 2004, 14:49 GMT]
Pandemonium reigned in Sri Lanka’s parliament Thursday night after the election of the new Speaker and when the leaders of Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) made speeches congratulating the new Speaker, Mr.W.J.M.Lokkubandara.
Parliamentarians of the TNA and JHU voted in support of Mr.Lokkubandara who contested on behalf of the main opposition, parliamentary sources said.
TNA parliamentary group leader, Mr.Sampanthan, in his speech congratulated the new Speaker and extended his party's co-operation in discharging his duties.
When Mr.Sampanthan made reference to the appointment of Mr. Douglas Devananda as a Minister in the UPFA government, pandemonium broke out and ruling party parliamentarians started shouting and demanded that Mr.Sampanthan withdraw his statement.
Mr.Sampanthan said that the appointment of Mr. Douglas Devananda as a minister was an insult to the people of Jaffna as Mr. Devananda polled votes less than the total number of rejected votes in the Jaffna electoral district in the April 2nd poll.
Despite the uproar and shouting, Mr.Sampanthan continued his speech, and he did not withdraw his reference about Mr.Devananda, sources said
Pandemonium reigned for the second time when two JHU parliamentarians who voted for opposing sides rose to speak simultaneously.
Only party leaders were allowed to make congratulatory speeches, opposition parliamentarians shouted at the JHU MP who supported the UPFA candidate to sit down.
Ruling party members hurled insults at monks and jeered them by throwing files and papers in the well of the house when Venerable Athuraliya Ratana who voted in favour of Mr.Lokkubandara rose to speak.
Amid shoutings and catcalls, Venerable Athuraliya Ratana said, “ Under these circumstances JHU cannot extend its co-operation to the UPFA government.”
Uproar continued till the conclusion of his speech, parliamentary sources said.