Ranjith Siyambalapitiya says he would step down as the Deputy Speaker of Parliament at the parliamentary sitting scheduled for April 19.
He made this remark addressing a special media briefing in Ruwanwella today.
Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s parliamentary group decided last week that its 14 lawmakers including former President Maithripala Sirisena would represent the Parliament independently.
Consequently, Siyambalapitiya informed the President of his intention to resign as the Deputy Speaker.
However, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa refused to accept Siyambalapitiya’s letter of resignation, stating that parliamentary democracy needs to be maintained.
As the post of the Deputy Speaker of Parliament is an independent appointment and taking into account the need to continue the parliamentary proceedings amidst the present situation, President Rajapaksa had told Siyambalapitiya that his resignation would be dismissed.
Delivering a special statement in the House last Friday (April 08), Siyambalapitiya, however, said he would remain in his position until the end of April.
Further addressing today’s media briefing, he said a new Deputy Speaker of Parliament will be appointed when the parliament convenes in May.
“Sri Lanka Freedom Party took a clear decision [to withdraw from the government] as people continue to face incessant hardships and stand in queues for days. The message given to the government by people who took to the streets should be further consolidated. That is why the Sri Lanka Freedom Party decided to vacate all ministerial portfolios in the government and to remain independent [in the parliament],” he continued.
The party was, however, of the view that the positions of the Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairperson of Committees, both of which are held by SLFP members, need not be vacated.
Despite this, Siyambalapitiya said he wanted to step down from his position as the Deputy Speaker in support of the SLFP’s move.
Siyambalapitiya said it would have created a bigger issue in the parliament, had he vacated the position last week, explaining that the parliament would have had to vote in a new Deputy Speaker when it convened to discuss the ongoing crises in the country. – ada derana