Sri Lanka’s former president Mahinda Rajapaksa has officially been recognised as the leader of the Opposition by Speaker of parliament Karu Jayasuriya, despite calls from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to not to allow him to take up the post.
The Speaker’s decision was announced by Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri when parliament met on Tuesday.
The TNA had said the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) “cannot be considered as a party in Opposition since the Leader of the UPFA is the Head of Government and the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers” and wrote to the European Union, the Commonwealth, the UN Secretary-General and the heads of Foreign Missions in Colombo over the issue.
Despite this, Speaker Jayasuriya recognised Rajapaksa in the post of Opposition leader, stating, “these are not matters coming under the purview of the Speaker to decide as per the Constitution as well as Standing Orders of Parliament”. “Those matters must be decided by the courts of law,” he added.
The TNA tweeted shortly after the decision,
“Prez is Head of Gov. He is also the President of the SLFP and of the UPFA. MR who claims to be in SLFP/UPFA, is reportedly now the Leader of the Opposition. Parliament must ask Prez how he can concurrently serve as Head of the Gov and as Head of the Opp”