Sri Lanka’s Parliament on May 17 elected ruling party lawmaker Ajith Rajapakse as its Deputy Speaker following a heated exchange between parliamentarians over his election.
He was elected by a secret ballot conducted in Parliament, where lawmakers met for the first time since the resignation of the former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the swearing in of new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Mr. Ajith Rajapakse, from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, secured 109 votes and the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya nominee Rohini Kavirathna received 78 votes, Sri Lankan media reported. Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said 23 votes were rejected.
Heated exchange in Parliament
Several lawmakers spoke against the vote, claiming it was a waste of Parliament’s valuable time.
Some ruling party lawmakers and the independent group, including the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) urged the SJB and the government to reach a consensus and propose one name. However, both sides failed to reach a consensus.
A heated exchange took place between the Opposition, the government and the Speaker. The Speaker later informed the House that if there is no consensus then he has no choice but to go for a vote.
Both Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son Namal were absent while Basil Rajapaksa and Shasheendra Rajapaksa, the other members of the Rajapaksa family, were present in Parliament.