Sampanthan awaits Speaker’s ruling to vacate post

By Skandha Gunasekara

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader R. Sampanthan said that he is awaiting a formal ruling from Speaker Karu Jayasuriya on who is the legitimate Leader of the Opposition.

Sampanthan said that he would take a decision on vacating the post of Leader of the Opposition based on the final ruling to be given by Speaker Jayasuriya on the issue.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Ananda Kumarasiri told The Sunday Morning that Speaker Jayasuriya will make an announcement in Parliament on the 8 January regarding the post of the Opposition Leader.

Sampanthan, meanwhile, told The Sunday Morning that he had refrained from using the offices of the Leader of the Opposition, since the Speaker’s recent announcement on MP Mahinda Rajapaksa and the post of the Opposition Leader.

He said that he had stopped using the offices of the Leader of the Opposition both in and outside Parliament.

“After the recent announcement made by the Speaker regarding the post of the Opposition Leader during the political impasse at the end of 2018, I stopped using the official offices of the Opposition Leader, so as not to cause any conflict or undue problems.”

He went on to say that the challenges made by him to Rajapaksa’s claim to the Opposition Leader post still stand.

“On two grounds, we challenge his claim. One is the fact that he is from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), a party which partakes in governance,” he said, pointing out that President Maithripala Sirisena of the UPFA was the Leader of the Cabinet of Ministers as well as holding several key ministerial portfolios.

“In addition, several UPFA parliamentarians have crossed over and joined the Government.”

Sampanthan noted that a member of a party that is part of the government cannot be the leader of the opposition.
“The second reason is that after the President dissolved Parliament, Rajapaksa is alleged to have joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).”

Sampanthan said that to have joined the SLPP, Rajapaksa would have had to leave the UPFA.

“A person cannot be in two political parties. Under the Constitution, if he left the UPFA, he stops being a member of the Parliament after the expiration of 30 days from the date he left the UPFA.”

He asserted that for these reasons, Rajapaksa could not be the Leader of the Opposition.