Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya’s move to recognise Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition has sparked a new controversy as the main Tamil party leader R Sampanthan said on Wednesday that there are now two people holding the same position.
Speaker Jayasuriya Tuesday announced 73-year-old Rajapaksa’s appointment as Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader in Parliament, days after he resigned as prime minister after clinging on to power for nearly two months.
Sampanthan, who held the position from 2015, said the Speaker made the announcement without removing him from the position.
“Consequently, it would be seen as two people holding the post of the Leader of the Opposition,” said Sampanthan, the leader of the Tamil National Alliance – the main Tamil party.
“This has further complicated the issue,” he said, referring to the recent political crisis.
Sampanthan argued that Rajapaksa had ceased to be a member of parliament since he defected from the party through which he had been elected to parliament in 2015.
“Your decision has been taken in haste, your decision is in violation of our Constitution,” Sampanthan told the speaker.
Speaker Jayasuriya said he would announce his decision on appointing a select committee to probe the issue on Friday.
The Tamil National Alliance has 16 lawmakers in the House and the party is the second largest group in parliament.
President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision on October 26 to sack prime minister Wickremesinghe and install Rajapaksa in his place triggered a constitutional crisis. Later, Sirisena also dissolved the 225-member Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.
However, Wickremesinghe was re-appointed as prime minister by Sirisena following a supreme court order, ending the 51-day political standoff in the country.