How will Day One of the Ninth Parliament unfold?

2020-08-20 at 07:34

The ceremonial opening of the Ninth Parliament will take place today under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. President Rajapaksa will declare open the first session of the new Parliament at 3pm.

The Head of State will then deliver the Government’s Policy Statement also known as the ‘throne speech’ according to provisions in Article 33(2) of the Constitution.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said all arrangements have been made to receive the President ahead of the inaugural Parliament session.

The President will be received by the new Speaker and the Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake at the main steps of the Parliament Building.

However, there will be no gun salutes or vehicle parades during the inauguration.

Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando says a cultural pageant will take place to greet the President ahead of the ceremonial opening of the new Parliament.

The invited dignitaries are expected to arrive at around 2.15pm. The arrival of the Members of Parliament will be proceeded by the arrival of the new Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, followed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Serjeant-at-Arms Narendra Fernando said the President will be accompanied to the House of Parliament by the Serjeant-at-Arms, followed by the Speaker of Parliament and the Secretary General of Parliament at 2.55pm.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will then chair the sitting and deliver the policy statement of the new government.

Prior to the ceremonial opening of the first sitting of the Ninth Parliament will take place at 9.30am.

During this morning’s first sitting of the new Parliament, members will elect the new Speaker in accordance with Standing Order No. 1 of Parliament.

All new Members of Parliament will then take their official oaths or affirmation before the new Speaker. The official oath or affirmation is allowed to be administered in any of the three languages ​​Sinhala, Tamil or English as per the Standing Orders of Parliament.

This will be followed by the appointment of a Deputy Speaker and a Deputy Chairperson of Committees.

Matara district Parliament-elect Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena is expected to become the Speaker of the Ninth Parliament of Sri Lanka.

During yesterday’s Parliamentary group meeting of the government, members have agreed to propose the name of Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena as the next Speaker.

Names of Ranjith Siyambalapitiya and Angajan Ramanathan will be proposed for the posts of Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairperson of Committees.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said a secret vote will be held to elect the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Deputy Chairperson of Committees of the new Parliament if more than one name was proposed for the respective posts.

Secretary General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake said 15 political parties will be represented in the Ninth Parliament.

He said on the opening day, members will be allowed to occupy any seat within the chamber however, following the election of the Speaker, Parliament will decide on the seating arrangements based on the seniority and other credentials of respective Members of Parliament.

Dhammika Dasanayake noted that the process could take several days to be completed.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna secured 145 seats in the new Parliament while the SJB will act as the main opposition after securing 54 MP posts at the recently concluded General Election. The Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi secured 10 seats in the new Parliament.

Meanwhile, the United National Party and the Our Power Of People Party have yet to name their National List representatives. Therefore, only the names of 223 members who will represent the Ninth Parliament have been gazetted.

Minister Dinesh Gunawardena has been named the Leader of the House while Minister Johnston Fernando will act as the Chief Government Whip in Parliament.

However, the opposition has yet to propose names for the posts of Leader of the Opposition and the Chief Opposition Whip in the new Parliament.

Meanwhile, Trincomalee district Parliament-elect R Sampanthan at the age of 87 will be the oldest member of the Ninth Parliament while Vasudeva Nanayakkara and CV Vigneswaran are also above 80 years of age. Nuwara-Eliya district Parliament-elect Jeevan Thondaman will be the youngest member of the house at the age of 26.

Meanwhile, Premalal Jayasekera who secured a Parliamentary seat from the Ratnapura district, despite being sentenced to death on murder charges will be allowed to attend today’s Parliamentary sitting.

Furthermore, Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan alias ‘Pillayan’ who is in remand custody on murder charges will also attend the inaugural sitting of the ninth Parliament today.

‘Pillayan’ secured a seat in Parliament from the Batticaloa District after contesting under the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal.

Meanwhile, 81 individuals are expected to take oaths as Members of the Sri Lanka Parliament for the first time, today.

According to the Communication Division of Parliament, during the August General Election, 65 persons were elected to Parliament for the first time.

16 others have also been nominated through National Lists of political parties who will become first-time MPs. 54 first-time MPs have been elected from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna while four persons who contested the election under the Samagi Jana Balawegaya ticket will also enter Parliament for the first time.

First-time MPs have also been elected from the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal, Eelam People’s Democratic Party, Muslim National Alliance, Tamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani, All Ceylon Makkal Congress and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.

Meanwhile, 12 persons named from the National List of the SLPP, one each from the SJB, ITAK, Akila Ilankai Thamil Congress and the National People’s Power will also take oaths as Parliamentarians for the first time.

Meanwhile, special guidelines have been issued to Members of Parliament when attending the inaugural sitting of the new Parliament.

All members are required to wear face masks at all times; however, they will be permitted to remove the face covering when addressing the House.

Meanwhile, MPs have been instructed to maintain a distance of one metre when occupying seats and also when carrying-out duties within the chamber.

MPs have also been instructed to refrain from exchanging person items while in Parliament as a precautionary measure.

Visitors to the public gallery will also be limited during today’s sitting in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.