Parliament adjourned due to protest



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By Saman Indrajith


Parliament sittings were disrupted yesterday as Joint Opposition MPs stormed the Well of the Chamber and struggled with sergeant-at-arms and his deputy to grab the Mace calling for the removal of Child and Women’s Affairs Deputy Minister Wijayakala Maheshwaran over her call for reviving the LTTE.


House sittings were limited to one hour and 25 minutes owing to the Joint Opposition MPs’ protest in the Well of the Chamber.


Sittings resumed at 1 pm, but were abruptly adjourned around 2.20 pm by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya due to protests. He first suspended the sittings around 1.54 pm for ten minutes and when the House resumed sitting, the JO MPs continued their protests.


Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe was not in the chamber when the Opposition MPs invaded the Well. They demanded that the PM should come to the chamber and respond to the Deputy Minister Maheshwaran’s demand for the revival of the LTTE.


MPs Wimal Weerawansa and Prasanna Ranaweera were severely warned by the Speaker as they criticised the Chair but they continued to protest ignoring the warning.


UNP MP SM Marikkar was the first to register the protest against Deputy Minister Maheshwaran’s statement that the LTTE should be brought back.


During the question time, the MP got up and demanded to know the standpoint of the party from Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who is the general secretary of the UNP.


MP Marikkar: "You are a Cabinet member and the General Secretary of the UNP. Deputy Minister Maheshwaran has made a statement violating the Constitution. We condemn this statement. Is it her standpoint or the government’s standpoint or the party’s standpoint?"


Minister Kariyawasam: "I condemn that statement. In my capacity as the General Secretary of the party I spoke to her over the phone and inquired about the statement. She told me that she had been emotionally overwhelmed over a death of a girl child and lost the control and made that statement. She said she was mentally down then. We reject that statement as a party. We heard that some called for a Hitler type leadership. This is a similar statement.


Speaker Jayasuriya: You cannot debate the matter now. We have other work to do.


MP Marikkar: If she has a mental problem, we have a hospital in Angoda.


Minister Kariyawasam: It is better if you could tell that to her yourself.


MP Weerawansa raising a point of order: When we became the MPs we took an oath to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country. We pledged to uphold the Constitution and sovereignty of the country. Maheshwaran is a deputy minister. She called for the revival of the LTTE on a stage where two ministers were present. That was propagating terrorism. She has no further right to be in this parliament. We cannot let her be here and promote terrorism.


MP Dayasiri Jayasekera: An investigation should be held by the CID and action should be taken against those responsible. She should be expelled from Parliament. She wants to divide this nation. If MPs talk of revival of the LTTE, they should be expelled.


MP Marikkar: We, too, are against it. The Opposition has made the issue a political football. What you have to say about the money taken from China and the demand for a Hitler type leader?


MP Asoka Priyantha: We are a nation who suffered because of the war. To make such a statement, while holding a minister post cannot be approved.


The Speaker tried to bring the situation under control to conduct the business of the House, but the Opposition MPs continued to shout demanding disciplinary action against deputy minister Maheshwaran.


Speaker Jayasuriya: Disciplinary action should be decided by the party.


The protesting MPs demanded to know what action would be taken against the deputy minister. They demanded that the PM should come to the chamber.


Leader of the House Minister Lakshaman Kiriella: We are discussing the issue with Prime Minister to take a decision.


As the MPs continued to protest the Speaker adjourned the sittings around 2.20 pm.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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