House adjourned for 10 mins following Opposition uproar

Parliamentary proceedings were adjourned for 10 minutes yesterday following a tense situation that erupted over the initiation of the debate on the Report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to investigate and inquire into as well as obtain information pertaining to alleged political victimization against public officers, public servants, members of the Armed Forces and the Police during the period of January 08th 2015 to November 16th 2019.

The two-day debate is scheduled to take place today and tomorrow (22-23).

Chief Opposition Whip of Parliament Lakshman Kiriella said that it was the Opposition that had requested the debate on the report and urged the Speaker to allow the Opposition side to start the debate.

In response, Chief Government Whip Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena said that it had been decided at the Party Leader’s meeting to allow a Government MP to present the Proposal and then commence the debate. “We also proposed an alternative, in the event unwanted issues were being raised. If your side does not want to carry on, then we will move the Government business,” he said, requesting MP Kiriella to act responsibly.

However, Kiriella insisted that the Opposition be given the opportunity to commence the debate. “We asked for the debate. MP Sarath Fonseka had submitted a motion and we asked for the debate. Hence, we have to start the debate.”

When he urged the Speaker to allow them to commence the debate, the Speaker said, “You all had decided on that day to move it from the Government side.”

Kiriella then pointing to Parliamentary tradition said that it is the party that requested the debate that should be given the opportunity to start the debate. MP Rauff Hakeem urged the Speaker to allow the Opposition to commence the debate as per Parliamentary tradition, adding that if not it will set a wrong example.

An irate Minister Gunawardena then said, “MP Hakeem too was present at the Party Leader’s meeting when we took the final decision. We made it very clear that the majority of those who were victimised were our supporters. You should be ashamed of yourselves. All you did was harass our people. Don’t you have shame to stand up and demand to commence this debate? It was your Government which harassed and targeted even Government servants who served under our Government.”

While the Opposition created an uproar and obstructed the House business, the Speaker suspended sittings for 10 minutes to bring the situation under control.

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