Last minute pact between the two Mahindas
House spared of fireworks

by Wijitha Nakkawita and Sanjeevi Jayasuriya
Contrary to speculation in political circles and the media, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairman of Committees, of the 13th Parliament yesterday (18), were elected uncontested. According to government and opposition sources, a last minute agreement had been reached between the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse and Chief Opposition whip Mahinda Samarasinghe to avoid a contest.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse proposed the name of the UPFA national list member Geethanjana Gunawardena for the post of Deputy Speaker and it was seconded by the Minister for Mahaveli and River Basin Development and Leader of the House Maithripala Sirisena.

He was elected unanimously.

The name of CWC member M.Sachthanandan was proposed for the post of Deputy Chaiman of Committees by member Muthu Sivalingam and seconded by the Chief Opposition Whip Mahinda Samarasinghe. Sachithanandan, too, was elected unanimously.

While Mahinda Samarasinghe told the House that the Opposition and government had reached an understanding on electing the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chaiman of Committees without a division there was an uproar from some of the backbenchers of the UPFA.

JVP Parliament group leader Wimal Weerawansa appeared to disagree with Mahinda Samarsinghe that there was such an agreement. However, the latter said that the Opposition had held a discussion with Premier Mahinda Rajapakse and an accord had been reached.

Prime Minister Rajapakse was seen whispering something in Weerawansa's ear and the government benches fell silent.

Parliament sittings were adjourned till 10.00 a.m. today (19). An adjournment debate on the recent incidents of Kandapola will be taken up when sittings resume. The debate has been tabled in the Order Paper on the the request of the CWC and had been taken up at the party leaders meeting held earlier in the week.