Dec 18, Colombo: The Sri Lankan parliament reconvened today after Rani Wickremesinghe, who was ousted from Prime Minister post by President Maithripala Sirisena and replaced by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, was reinstated on Sunday.
When the House convened, the Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced that the President's party United People's Freedom Alliance (UPFA) nominated its strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa to the Opposition Leader Post and UPFA General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera was nominated as Chief opposition whip.
Following the announcement, the Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella announced that there are 'strangers' in the parliament and they should be removed.
Speaking further Mr. Kiriella said that several UPFA Parliamentarians including Mahinda Rajapaksa have resigned from their party and returned to the Parliament after joining the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Kiriella further said that they should abolish their parliamentary seats since they were elected from UPFA and are now members of SLPP.
According to MP Dr. Harsha de Silva, UNP MPs Kiriella, and Ajith P Perera and Tamil national Alliance MP M A Sumanthiran Mahinda Rajapaksa have argued that MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has become a "fake MP".
Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella pointed out in Parliament today that in terms of Article 99 (13) of the Constitution, one month after a Member of Parliament withdraws his membership in the party he was elected from, he becomes ineligible to hold his parliamentary seat.
MP Kiriella pointed out that Rajapaksa left the membership in Sri Lanka Freedom Party accepted the membership of the SLPP and therefore, he cannot attend the Parliament sessions.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and obtained the membership in the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on November 11th.
A group of parliamentarians representing the UPFA have also obtained membership of the SLPP along with Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Expressing his views further, Kiriella said that since SLFP MPs who left the party have therefore lost their seats, and they cannot be allowed to stay in parliament, as per the Standing Orders of the Parliament.
Responding to the arguments, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said he would look into the matter.
However, if the MPs, who joined the SLPP but haven't given up the membership in SLFP yet, they would not be deprived of their parliamentary seats.
Parliamentarian Udaya Gammanpila had asked Speaker Karu Jayasuriya whether the Secretary General of the United People's Freedom Alliance had informed him of the abolition of parliamentary positions. Speaker said that no such notice had been made.
Parliamentarian Rauff Hakeem stated that if any member leaves the party he was elected from and joins another party, he will be deprived of his seat without any constraints. He said it was clearly stated in the Standing Orders of Parliament number 21.
MP Hakeem said the law will be in effect one month after the member leaves the party he was elected from.
Since this is a complex issue, and there are facts and evidence present, the MP proposed the Speaker to appoint a parliamentary select committee on the matter and taken an appropriate decision following an inquiry.
Staying in the parliamentary seat knowingly if they are ineligible to hold the seat and enjoying parliamentary privileges will amount to financial fraud.