Leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) and UPFA MP Wimal Weerawansa’s request to be recognised as a party leader severing all ties with the UPFA gave rise to a tense situation in Parliament yesterday.
“My request to be recognised as an independent group was made over a month ago. We have informed the Honourable Speaker that the NFF MPs no longer have any connection with the UPFA and that we wish to act as an independent group in Parliament. The Speaker was to take this matter with the UPFA leadership. We are awaiting his decision. Such delays deprive us of our rights as members to be independent and to voice our concerns,” he said.
However, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, who was not in a hurry to urgently make a decision, wanted to take up the matter with the party leaders meeting scheduled for yesterday. “I have received your letter and have kept the UPFA informed of your decision. They have written back rejecting your claims to have informed the UPFA of your decision to be independent. So, you should inform them first,” the Speaker said.
Supporting MP Weerawansa’s request, UPFA MP Bandula Gunawardena said that there would no harm in recognising the NFF as an independent group in Parliament.
Minister of City Planning and Water Supply Rauf Hakeem, meanwhile, recalled how the Rajapaksa regime had rejected his request to be independent. “In the the last Parliament, we wanted to become independent in the House even though we contested from the UNP. Our request was rejected and we agreed to it. I was prevented from raising issues in the House as a party leader. It was the previous government which set that precedence,” he said. (AH)