Ranjan Challenges Abusive Behavior in Sri Lankan Parliament

Ranjan Ramanayaka   Parliament was turned into a mini battlefield  as the government members disrupted a candle light protest by the Opposition members by throwing bottles of water which led to fisticuffs.   Soon after Senior Minister of International Monetary cooperation, Dr. Sarath Amunugama presented regulations, orders and bills for the debate, the UNP MPs started to light candles they had brought into the Chamber and walked into the Well, shouting slogans and calling upon the government do away with power tariff hike, around 4.23 pm.

Government member Lohan Ratwatte hurled bottles of water at Opposition protesters and the sittings were suspended for five minutes by the presiding member C. Murugesu. The Opposition MPs remained in the Chamber with candles, shouting slogans.   The UNP members with lit candles in their hands stayed in the Well of the House while DNA and TNA members remained in their seats.

The candle light protest was launched by Chief Opposition Whip John Amaratunga, MPs Joseph Michael Perera, Eran Wickremaratne, Ranjan Ramanayake, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Dr Jayalath Jayawardana, Anoma Gamage, Lakshman Kiriella, Ruwan Wijewardene, Palitha Thevarapperuma, Thalatha Atukorala, Rosey Senanayake, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, Sajith Premadasa, Sujeewa Senasinghe, Wijedasa Rajapakshe, Ajith P. Perera, and Dunesh Gankanda. Later TNA MPs M Sumanthiran and S Yogeshwaran too joined the protest as well as MP J Sriranga.   Some opposition MPs advanced to the seat of Health Minister Maitripala Sirisena and tried to fix the candles on his table but minister did not allow them to do that.

As MP Lohan Ratwatte continued to hurl bottles of water other government MPs followed suit with the security officials being compelled to removed schoolchildren from the gallery. One of the bottles hurled by MP Ratwatte hit MP Ranjan Ramanayake, who advanced towards the government side challening MP Ratwatte for a fight. MP Ratwatte however retreated while Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara came forward and was seen trying to pacify an exasperated Ramanayake. UPFA MP Duleep Wijesekera warned MP Ramananayake that the government was not scared of his celluloid action.   As the sittings resumed with Deputy Speaker, Chandima Weerakkody presiding, the government members came to the chamber and outnumbered the Opposition protesters.

The government members led by Economic Development Minister, Basil Rajapaksa came to the Well and asked their Opposition counterparts to end the protest. Some government members were seen attempting to douse the candles of Opposition MPs which developed into exchange of blows. In the melee Galle District MP Manusha Nanayakkara kicked UNP Kalutara District MP Ajith P. Perera. This made MP Perera to challenge MP Nanayakkara who was seen shouting at Opposition MPs after retreating to back rows. Senior Minister C.B. Ratnayake, who was trying to douse the candles and to talk to Opposition MPs was seen being pushed out by MP Sajith Premadasa, who seemed to be unusually angry; he shouted at the government MPs.     . (The ISLAND)

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