ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 36

Parliament: Old faces in new places

By Chandani Kirinde

At least four of the new UNP dissidenta who joined the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration will get front row seats on the government side in Parliament when the House meets on Tuesday.

As seats are allocated strictly based on seniority, the front row seats will be occupied by the new Parliamentary Affairs Minister, M.H. Mohamed, Supplementary Crops development Minister R.M. Dharmadasa Banda, Plan Implementation Minister P. Dayaratna and Sports and Public Recreation Minister Gamini Lokuge.

At least four of the seven Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) monk MPs along with its newly appointed Cabinet Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka will also get seats on the government side, according to parliamentary officials.

Mr. Ranawaka will take his seat in Parliament after he is sworn in before Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara on Tuesday as a National List MP in place of the Ven. Omalpe Sobitha Thera who resigned last week to make way for Mr. Ranawaka.UNP dissident group leader Karu Jayasuriya will, however, be on the second row.

Ministers Ferial Ashraff, Douglas Devananda, P. Chandrasekaran and Arumugam Thondaman will have to move to a rear row.

However as there are 116 seats on each side of the House and with the government numbers going upto 121 with the UNP/JHU additions, a few would have to take seats on the opposition side.

All 38 JVP MPs will be given seats on the Opposition side along with the former JHU-now-Independent monk MP Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thera as well as CWC MP now turned Independent V. Putrisingamani.

Meanwhile the lack of office space for the large number of cabinet ministers is also posing a headache for parliamentary officials.

Recommendations had been made to the Parliamentary Select Committee to construct a new building behind the main one to get additional office space but the official approval has not yet been given.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.