If the Speaker does not give a final ruling regarding the recognition of the Joint Opposition as an independent group in the Parliament, we will have to continue on with our non-cooperation, MP Dinesh Gunawardena outlined.

A group of MPs of the Joint Opposition staged a protest in the House chamber over the matter on February 09, demanding that they be recognized separately as independent MPs.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya had stated that the issue was one which should be resolved within the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) and that therefore he could not intervene.

Gunawardena said that they, a group made up of 51 MPs, constituting 20% of the Parliament, felt let down by the decision and actions of the Speaker, who despite acknowledging the fact that there was a problem, a fact also acknowledged by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, was engaging in attempting to buy time on an issue that has dragged on for over five-and-a-half months.

“We conducted a protest. The Speaker is under heavy pressure and is being forced to make un-parliamentary decisions. This is not an internal matter of the UPFA. When politician S.J.V. Chelvanayakam left the All Ceylon Tamil Congress to form the Federal Party, he was recognized. The same was the case when politicians like S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, Philip Gunawardena, Dr. N.M. Perera and Peter Keuneman took different paths in their politics, and when political parties like the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna left the Alliance. Jayasuriya is the only Speaker who is interpreting the issue in this manner despite precedent. We are looking for a position acceptable to the Joint Opposition in the Parliament,” he added.