Uproar in House on Bribery Commission

Published : 8:58 am  April 21, 2015 | No comments so far |  | 


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By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera
The Bribery Commission’s move to summon former President Mahinda Rajapaksa rocked the parliamentary sessions yesterday with about 50 MPs staging a protest in the Well of the House.
Prior to the adjournment motion after a short session, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) Leader Dinesh Gunawardane rose to a point of order and said the government had launched a merciless witch-hunt against opposition MPs and their family members including their children.

Mr. Gunawardena said despite repeated requests to ensure the safety and dignity of MPs the trend was continuing unabated with the latest being the Bribery Commission’s move to summon the former President over the appointment of Tissa Attanayake as the then Health Minister.

“Former President Rajapaksa saved the country from the grip of terrorism. At that time, 19 United National Party (UNP) MPs accepted ministerial portfolios to strengthen his government politically in the fight against terrorism. Now, the MPs are being hounded mercilessly. This is an assault on Parliament,” Mr. Gunawardena said.
House Leader Lakshman Kiriella in his response said the government was unaware about the move by the Bribery Commission to summon Mr. Rajapaksa. He said the government was seeking the opposition’s support to enact the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which, among others, was to set up an Independent Bribery Commission.

National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader Wimal Weerawansa said Mr. Rajapaksa had been summoned over the appointment of Mr. Attanayake as a Cabinet Minister though Mr. Kiriella pretended to be unaware of it. He supported the views expressed by Mr. Gunawardane whom he described as ‘the unofficial opposition leader’.
Later, United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) MP Susil Premajayantha, Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former External Affairs Minister G.L. Peiris argued that the former President could not be questioned over the exercise of his powers while in office.
Meanwhile Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva also spoke against the move to summon Mr. Rajapaksa.
Later MPs, who support Mr. Rajapaksa, trooped into the Well of the House and staged a sit-in protest. They also submitted a petition to Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa against moves to summon Mr. Rajapaksa. It was signed by more than 50 MPs.