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Heated words in House over loyalties

Despite the big hue and cry by UPFA MPs of the pro-Mahinda Rajapaksa faction on the floor of the House to take up their No Confidence Motions against the Central Bank Governor, Arjun Mahendran and Director General of the Bribery Commission, Dilrukshi Wickremesinghe for debate Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa giving a clear ruling on the issue, stressed the need to refer the two motions to a special parliamentary committee before taking them up for debate. The Speaker's decision thwarted the rebel UPFA MPs attempts to gain political mileage while government legislators had alleged that the Opposition under the pretext of the No Confidence Motions are all out to sling mud at Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the government.

One motion presented by UPFA parliamentarian, Prof G.L. Peiris on April 29, carrying the signatures of 88 MPs against the Central Bank Governor, while the other by UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardane signed by 105 MPs against the Director General of the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption were presented on April 21.

Point of order

The Speaker made it clear that the two No - Confidence Motions before being taking up for debate should be referred to the relevant committees or the Select Committees already set up to report on these two No-Confidence Motions and its recommendations should be submitted within two weeks to Parliament.

The Speaker said the No-Confidence Motion against the Central Bank Governor could be referred to COPE and investigated by a committee appointed by the COPE chairman.

Treasury Bond issue

When sittings commenced on Tuesday, UPFA parliamentarian Dinesh Gunawardena raising a point of order said that the House should take up the No Confidence motion against the Central Bank Governor for debate which was already in the Order Book. Leader of the House and Plantation Industries Minister Lakshman Kiriella said that No-Confidence Motions seeking the dismissal of the Central Bank Governor and the Director General of the Bribery Commission were not in order and should be removed from the Order Book. The No-Confidence Motions were not in order as there is no provision for Parliament to pass a vote of No-Confidence against a public official and dismiss him accordingly.

UPFA parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardane said since Parliament had the power over public finance the matter should not be postponed but taken up for debate. Deputy Speaker Chandima Weerakkody had to suspend sittings twice due to the contrary views held by the Government and the Opposition members on the matter. Parliamentary sittings were limited to two hours as the Opposition MPs continued to demand that the No-Confidence Motion against the Central Bank Governor be taken up for debate.

Minister Lakshman Kiriella on Tuesday tabled the report of the committee appointed by the Prime Minister to look into the Central Bank's bond issue. The UPFA rebel group which failed to get a debate on the No Confidence Motion against the Central Bank Governor called for a debate on the report of the Treasury bond issue. MP, Prof. G. L. Peiris called for a debate on the report at the Adjournment. Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella who opposed the demand by Opposition MPs told the House that the Speaker has already given a ruling on the matter and as such the Opposition could not press for a debate.

If it is permitted, the Opposition will use it as a precedent and bring about No Confidence Motions against other public officials such as Grama Niladharis and the Divisional Secretaries.

When the Prime Minister attempted to read certain sections of the Report, UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara got up to raise a Point of Order and the Premier asked the MP to sit down. This led to a heated argument between the two political heavyweights demanding each other to sit down. MP Nanayakkara was heard using unparliamentary language. As his microphone was switched on the words used by the MP were heard clearly.

Commonwealth Conventions

While responding to statements by Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva and MEP Leader Dinesh Gunawardane on the Central Bank's bond issue, the Prime Minister drew the attention of the House on the validity of the interim order preventing the arrest of former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and added, "We are not bound to invoke the provisions of Commonwealth Conventions, if former President Mahinda Rajapakse had not accepted them." The Leader of the House who endorsed the point raised by the Prime Minister told the House that not only the Prime Minister but also any citizen of the country had the right to criticise a court judgement. The Prime Minister alleged that the UPFA rebel MPs were trying to 'pull the leg' of President Maithripala Sirisena. He asked the MPs to follow only one leader and question of MPs Bandula Gunawardane and Prof G.L. Peiris whether their leader is Mahinda Rajapaksa or Maithripala Sirisena? Now the Opposition is afraid of going for an election, the UPFA MPs should resolve their problems within the SLFP itself, he added.

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