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Sampanthan says Sri Lanka has 2 opposition leaders

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader, R Sampanthan questioned the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Sri Lanka's opposition leader yesterday, arguing that he had never been removed from the post by the Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya and that move raised the questioned whether Sri Lanka was becoming a failed state. 

Sampanthan, who had held the post of opposition leader until the president's attempt to dissolve parliament on November 9, told parliament today the country had two opposition leaders. 

Yesterday the Jayasuriya appointed Rajapaksa as the Leader of the Opposition. 

Addressing parliament, Sampanthan said: 

"You made the said announcement [of Rajapaksa as opposition leader] without removing me from the post of the Leader of the Opposition to which position you yourself and appointed me twice over and consequently it would seem that there are two persons holding the position". 

"That the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) had many more seats in Parliament than the ITAK has never been questioned. I was recognized as the Leader of the Opposition consequent to your accepting me as the Parliamentary Leader of the ITAK the second largest party in Parliament."

Calling for a new constitution to "enable all people inclusive of the Tamil and Tamil speaking people to live with self-respect and dignity", Sampanthan said:

"the events that I have outlined above tend to raise the question as to whether Sri Lanka is moving towards becoming a failed state which does not recognize the supremacy of its Constitution the primary law."

Rajapaksa's supporters had criticised the TNA's position as the official opposition, arguing that since the party's backing of the UNP in the past two months, they were with the government. 

“We witnessed the TNA voting in favour of the confidence motion in support of Ranil Wickremesinghe. They cannot continue to be like this. If they are to play the role of the opposition they should work against the government,” the SLPP MP, Kanchana Wijesekera had told reporters. 

MP S B Dissanayake had called for the opposition post to be handed to Rajapaksa. 

"The Tamil National Alliance had no right to hold the opposition post in parliament because they were acting according to the whims and fancies of the UNP," Dissanayake told the Daily Mirror.