UNP MP Ananada Kumarasiri was elected the Deputy Speaker with a majority of 44 votes in Parliament yesterday following a secret vote. UNP MP Kumarasiri obtained 97 votes and UPFA MP Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle obtained 53 votes while the Speaker declared one vote as invalid. A total of 73 MPs were absent. TNA and JVP MPs were absent.
The secret vote began at 3 pm and continued for about one hour and 45 minutes. Parliament officials set up a screen, two desks and a ballot box in the middle of the well of the chamber, and MPs cast their vote one by one in a printed ballot card given to them by the Parliament staff when their names were called by the Parliament Secretary General. UNP MP Buddhika Pathirana proposed the name of MP Kumarasiri and SLFP MP S.B. Dissanayake proposed the name of Dr. Fernandopulle for the Deputy Speaker’s post. As more than one name was proposed Speaker Karu Jayasuriya announced to the House that a secret vote would be taken as per the Standing Orders.
He instructed the MPs to write the name of the candidate of their choice for the Deputy Speaker in the ballot card and sign it. He said the votes would be considered confidential and the Speaker will destroy the ballot papers later. As the quorum bell went off, the TNA and JVP MPs left the chamber.
The empty ballot box was displayed to the House by a Parliamentary Staff member at the commencement of the election and at the end of counting.
The Government members thumped their desks as the Speaker announced the results to the House. The Speaker congratulated the newly elected Deputy Speaker Kumarasiri stating that he is a senior Parliamentarian representing Parliament since 1996. He also extended his well-wishes for Dr. Fernandopulle and former Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe also joined in congratulating the new Deputy Speaker.
Deputy Speaker Kumarasiri thanking for the support given to him, said he would discharge his duties to his best cooperating with MPs of all political parties. Dr. Fernandopulle interpreted her defeat as a set-back for women in the country.