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* Will Sri Lanka's detained MP-elect General Fonseka be allowed to attend the inaugural parliamentary session?
Mon, Apr 19, 2010, 11:28 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Apr 19, Colombo: It is not certain yet whether the newly elected parliamentarian and the leader of Sri Lanka's Marxist alliance, General (Retd.) Sarath Fonseka, who is in military custody, will be allowed to attend the inaugural parliamentary session on Thursday.

The former military chief and the leader of Democratic National Alliance gained a seat in the seventh parliament at the general elections held on April 8.

Fonseka topped the preferential list from his party receiving 98,458 preference votes in the Colombo District despite being incarcerated at the Navy Headquarters since February 8.

However his attendance at the first session of the new parliament on April 22 remains in limbo without a definite decision from the authorities.

Military spokesman Major General Prasad Samarasinghe says to attend the parliamentary sessions, the General needs the approval from the Ministry of Defence based on the instructions it receives from the Secretary General of the Parliament.

Military Spokesman says the Court Martial issue was separate from his election to the parliament.

However, his party spokesman, Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna says the government has to make arrangements for him to attend the parliament since he was a member elected by the people.

He says permission from the Defence Ministry is not needed as General Fonseka is a representative of the people.

Addressing a media briefing yesterday Dissanayake said the party has sent a letter to the Secretary General of the parliament through Fonseka's lawyer requesting the Army to make arrangements for the retired general to attend the parliament.

"According to the provisions of the Parliament Act, all privileges and rights of a parliamentarian should be granted to General Sarath Fonseka as well. According to the provisions of the Constitution, the government has no legal or ethical grounds to stop General Sarath Fonseka from attending parliament," Dissanayake was quoted as saying by NewsFirst.

At the Thursday's session of the Parliament new MPs will take oath after electing a new Speaker. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to address the session following the oath taking.


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