Sri Lankan Prime Minister's United National Party wins secret ballot to secure deputy speaker position

Colombo: Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Party won the secret ballot in parliament today for the deputy speaker's position left vacant by the resignation of Thilanga Sumathipala, a loyalist of President Maithripala Sirisena.

United National Party nominee Ananda Kumarasiri was elected deputy speaker with 97 for and 53 against in the 225-member assembly while 25 members were absent from the house. Kumarasiri's defeated rival Sudarshani Fernandopulle is another Sirisena loyalist.

File image of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Reuters

File image of Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Reuters

Sumathipala and 15 other Sirisena loyalists had walked out of the government in April after they voted against Wickremesinghe in a no-trust vote.

"We have gone on the basis that two for the government and one for the opposition in parliamentary positions. We want to retain that position," Wickremesinghe said referring to an argument by R Sampanthan, the main opposition leader, that Sirisena loyalists should be appointed for the vacancy by consensus.

The group of 16 Sirisena loyalists now align with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's joint opposition. However all three Rajapaksas—Mahinda, brother Chamal and son Namal—were not present in the house when the secret vote was taken.

The parliamentary competition between Sirisena loyalists and the president's unity government partner United National Party followed last week's anti-United National Party outburst from Sirisena who blamed the United National Party for bungling in governance.

The ruling party, however, has chosen not to respond to the president's public criticism.

Updated Date: Jun 05, 2018 18:19 PM

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