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Sri Lanka parliament re-elects govt-backed Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as deputy speaker

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s parliament re-elected MP Ranjith Siyambalapitiya as deputy speaker on Thursday (05) with 148 out of 225 MPs voting in favour of the government-backed candidate.

Siyambaliapitya has been bouncing back and forth between the deputy speaker position since early last month, and his re-election followed his latest resignation that was accepted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on May 03.

Rival candidate Imitiaz Bakeer Makar, who was nominated by the main opposition the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) received only 65 votes.

Three votes were rejected, and six MPs including “dissident” government member Wimal Weerawansa were absent during the vote.

Siyamablapitiya represents the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), the former ruling coalition partner that now functions independently in parliament, effecting making its MPs opposition members. However, several rounds of discussions have been held between the SLFP and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) on a way forward amid Sri Lanka’s worsening political crisis precipitated by an unprecedented economic meltdown.

Siyambalapitiya’s nomination was backed by the SLPP. Analysts say the vote has revealed that the ruling coalition MPs who declared their independence are still with the government.

This does not bode well for an upcoming no confidence motion against the government submitted by the SJB, political commentators said.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told parliament following Siyambalapitiya’s re-election that the lack of consensus on the Deputy Speaker post which was contested by two candidates from the opposition ranks shows the country the divisions within parliament.

Wickremsinghe urged the house to work together and solve the pressing issues in the country, warning that otherwise the public will reject parliament as an institution in its entirety. (Colombo/May05/2022)

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