Claiming that SJB made a U-turn when everyone had agreed to nominate Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as the Deputy Speaker in Parliament, SLFP General Secretary Dayasiri Jayasekara alleged that a ‘deal’ had been struck between the SJB and the SLPP.

“In the evening of 4 May, It was discussed with the SJB about nominating Siyambalapitiya as the Deputy Speaker. A common agreement was reached with regard to that, however, the SJB betrayed that agreement and nominated Imthiaz Bakeer Markar at the last moment,” Jayasekara alleged.  Explaining the situation, during a media briefing, Jayasekara claimed that when the Speaker asked the SLFP to nominate someone from the SLFP, they decided to nominate Siyambalapitiya and informed the SJB about that.  “On 4 May, I spoke with SJB General Secretary Ranjith Maddumabandara on the phone and he pledged that the SJB would vote for Siyambalapitiya, Jayasekara said.

“However, the SJB had a meeting on Thursday (5) morning and there had been some disagreements between them.  Minutes before
the Speaker’s announcement to nominate a candidate for the Deputy Speaker post, the SJB abruptly requested that we replace Siyambalapitiya’s name with another. But we did not have time to make a decision at the time. What is suspicious in this is everyone had a common agreement and the SJB had ample time to request that we change the name.”

In addition, Jayasekara said that Siyambalapitiya receive 148 votes without the SJB’s support. He said that the vote for Deputy Speaker was an excellent opportunity to demonstrate to the incumbent Government that the Opposition has a majority in Parliament.

“However, it was destroyed by the SJB. They decided to vote for Markar at the last minute. There is no wrong with voting for Markar. But we had discussions and wanted to demonstrate that we had the majority. Unfortunately, SJB chose to jeopardise it,” he said.

In addition, he noted that reasonable allegations have been levelled against SJB regarding possible deals with the SLPP in order to weaken the Opposition.

BY Thameenah Razeek