W.J.M.elected Speaker after marathon poll

by Wijitha Nakkawita

Parliamentary history was created yesterday (22) when three different polls had to be taken on the election of Speaker of the 13th Parliament of Sri Lanka.

At the third poll the Opposition nominee W. J. M. Lokubandara of the UNF was elected Speaker by 110 against 109 votes for UPFA nominee D. E. W. Gunasekara.

The exercise took nine hours, again a record for electing a Speaker as the first vote ended on a 108-108 tie, a second vote was taken. At the second vote the UPFA raised objections on the grounds that some members of the Opposition had displayed their ballot papers to other members although the vote was on a secret ballot. Secretary General of Parliament Priyani Wijesekara who conducted the poll ruled according to Standing Orders and told the House that members should cast their vote observing secrecy of the ballot.

During the second time there was an incident when the UNPs Chandrani Bandara member for Anuradhapura showed her ballot papers to the members on the Opposition benches. The government benchers again raised objections to this and gathered in numbers in the well of the House and blocked the voting process.

At this stage the Secretary General of Parliament went out of the Chamber after the party leaders also went outside.

For the third time in the day the quorum bells started ringing at 7.00 p.m. and a fresh secret ballot vote was taken. It took nearly another one hour for each member of both sides to cast their votes. When the count was taken W. J. M. Lokubandara of the UNP had received 110 votes with D. E. W. Gunasekara of the UPFA receiving 109 votes. In this last vote two more monks of the JHU had also voted while five of the JHU group refrained from voting.