A meeting of party leaders at the parliament complex on Friday saw heated exchanges between government and opposition members.
Their cause of disagreement was UNP Gampaha District parliamentarian, Jayalath Jayawardene.
Seventy-seven government MPs want a parliamentary select committee to probe Dr. Jayawardene for "very close links with LTTE activists and/or LTTE supporters in the UK and other major towns of Europe." Their motion has been listed in the Order Book of Parliament. These MPs allege that Dr. Jayawardene has violated the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution which abhors separatism.
UNP leaders protested at the move. They pointed out that a motion signed by UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya and five others in the party wanted a Select Committee to determine "the background related to the allegation levelled by Minister Dinesh Gunawardena" and whether Dr. Jayawardene was involved in the protest campaign at Heathrow Airport. This was when President Mahinda Rajapaksa arrived there on November 29. The UNP motion, however, has not been listed in the Order Book so far.
UNP leaders produced Dr. Jayawardene's passport before Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa to show that he was not in Britain when President Rajapaksa had arrived. "How do we know whether he used another passport," shouted an angry minister Nimal Siripala de Silva. Otherwise, he alleged, he could have gone to London earlier and made plans with Tiger guerrilla supporters. UNP leaders denied the charges and alleged that Dr. Jayawardena was being made a scapegoat for the Oxford fiasco.