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Speaker to hear UPFA position on replacing Sampanthan as Opposition Leader

The Sri Lankan Parliament’s Speaker is to be presented with the UPFA’s stance on the Leader of the Opposition post today, following concerted efforts to oust TNA leader R. Sampanthan from the position by the self-styled ‘Joint Opposition’.

Eight members of the Joint Opposition had written to the Speaker requesting the appointment of UPFA MP Dinesh Gunawardene as Leader of the Opposition as he had the support of 70 members in the opposition benches.

As those 70 members were elected with the UPFA as a constituent of the Unity Government, the Speaker said he would have to seek official clarification on the current position.

The TNA leader was appointed Leader of the Opposition, amidst much backlash, in September 2015, becoming the first Tamil to hold the post since 1983, when Tamil leaders resigned en masse after the passing of the 6th amendment, which made it illegal to “support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka”.

Efforts to replace him with a Sinhalese parliamentarian have been ongoing since, with Sinhala party leaders and Buddhist monks even taking to the streets to protest demanding his resignation.