Sri Lankan opposition parties sign no-confidence motion against speaker

Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena

Sri Lankan opposition parties, led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, have decided to bring a no-confidence motion against Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena today (February 26).

The signing of the no-confidence motion has begun, stating that the Speaker violated parliamentary procedures by neglecting instructions given by the Judiciary regarding the Online Safety Bill.

Under the leadership of opposition leader Sajith Premadasa, Parliamentarians M.A. Sumanthiran, Lakshman Kiriella, Professor G.L. Peiris, Tissa Attanayake, Chandima Weerakkodi, and Shan Vijayalal de Silva have signed the proposal for a no-confidence motion.

The motion states that the suggestions given by the Supreme Court regarding sections 13, 17, 20, 33 (6), 34 (1), 35 (1), 21, 22, and 31 of the Online Safety Bill have been ignored by the Speaker.

The Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) also mentioned this in a letter to the Speaker on February 08, 2024, stating that the Speaker has not acted according to the directions given by the Supreme Court in passing certain clauses of the Online Safety Bill.

Due to this, a serious question has arisen as to whether the Parliament has received the necessary number of votes to pass the Online Safety Bill in its current form.

Additionally, during the third reading of this bill, the chief opposition whip asked for a clear division, but this request was ignored, and the bill was passed without a vote.

Despite such problems, the Speaker was requested not to sign the bill into law until it is thoroughly considered.

The disregard of these requests has also led to the motion of no confidence.

This proposal has been submitted, stating that the Speaker has acted in a partisan manner, blatantly violated parliamentary standing orders and the constitution, defamed the independence and dignity of the post of Speaker, violated the privileges and rights of the opposition members, and neglected his responsibilities.