Over 220 new MPs register online

Over 220 new Members of Parliament registered online by yesterday evening ahead of the inauguration of the ninth Parliament on Thursday, parliamentary sources said. Parliament introduced an online registration system for MPs this year deviating from the traditional process to make it Covid-19 free.

“This is the beginning of a new era and the online registration was very successful,” Assistant Secretary-General of Parliament Tikiri K. Jayathilake said.

He said they were sceptical when introducing the system because MPs were from different age groups.

“This exceeded our expectations. Even R. Sampanthan, Tamil National Alliance leader, the oldest member in Parliament registered online,” Jayathilake said.

The online registration system was a test project to explore the possibility of doing parliamentary work online, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MPs were asked to state their religion to ascertain whether the member would take an oath or an affirmation during the swearing-in ceremony, the sources said.

MPs were also encouraged to share information regarding their hobbies and educational qualifications. The data gathered will be made public. The registration period concluded yesterday (15).

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa issued an Extraordinary Gazette notification fixing the inaugural session of the ninth Parliament at 9.30am on August 20, 2020. The President will also present the Government’s Policy Statement as per Article 33(2) of the Constitution the same afternoon.

The recently issued Gazette notification states, “Know ye, that by virtue of the powers vested in me by Article 70 of the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, I, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President, do by this Proclamation summon Parliament to meet in the Chamber of Parliament, Sri Jayewardenepura, on the twentieth day of August, two thousand and twenty at 9.30 a.m.”

During the first session, the new Speaker will be appointed through a vote and the newly elected Members of Parliament will take their oaths before the Speaker.

Chief of Staff and Deputy Secretary General of Parliament Neil Iddawela said he was confident of the health measures adopted in Parliament to check the spread of Covid-19 during the inaugural session.

“We have taken all precautions. Parliament staff will also follow the health guidelines issued in this regard,” he said.

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