The dissolved Sri Lanka Parliament, which was re-convened briefly, on Tuesday approved the proclamation signed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa on March 1, extending the emergency laws by another month.
The vote to extend the state of emergency by a month was passed with 93 votes in support and 24 against. The Janatha Vimukthi Perumana, the main opposition, United National Party and the Tamil National Alliance voted against the extension of emergency.
Emergency laws in the island nation were re-imposed after the assassination of the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar by suspected cadres of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the first half of August 2005. Since then the emergency laws and regulations have been extended by the Parliament on a monthly basis.
Since the military defeat of the LTTE last May, influential sections of the opposition parties in the island nation have been questioning the rationale of the government in extending the emergency laws.
The government on its part has argued that the laws were required as the security forces are still engaged in ‘operational activities’ to prevent the re-emergence of terrorist and secessionist forces.
Moving the motion to extend the emergency laws, Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka maintained that troops still find hauls of weapons during their search operations even months after the decimation of the LTTE. Mr. Wickramanayaka told the House that it was beyond doubt and everyone would agree that the state of emergency had been very helpful in the recent past in defeating terrorism.
Retired General Sarath Fonseka, who lost to Mr. Rajapaksa in the recent Presidential election, had agreed to consider the demands of most of the opposition parties to repeal the emergency laws.
Indications are that Parliament might have to meet once again before the scheduled date of April 22 if the government is of the view that letting the emergency laws lapse even for a few days could be detrimental to the interests of the island nation.