COLOMBO The leader of Sri Lanka's main Tamil party has questioned the legitimacy of Mahinda Rajapaksa's position as the leader of the main Opposition in Parliament. The Tamil National Alliance's objection came even as Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has already announced Rajapaksa as Opposition leader.
R Sampanthan, the TNA leader and the former leader of the opposition, stressed that Rajapaksa being recognized as the leader of the second largest group in parliament had raised questions. Rajapaksa is a member of President Maithripala Sirisena-led United People's Freedom Alliance (UFPA).
Sirisena, who leads the UPFA, is a part of the government, how could his party also sit in Opposition at the same time, he asked. There is a clear case of constitutional conflict over Rajapaksa's appointment as the main Opposition leader.
Sampanthan said that his TNA remains the second largest group after Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's United National Front. Sampanthan held the position of the main Opposition leader from 2015 until Rajapaksa was given the job last month.
The Tamil leader argued that Rajapaksa, who had obtained membership of his new party after being elected to parliament from a different party was deemed to have lost his parliamentary seat. Sampanthan stresses that he must be restored in his position as the main opposition leader to guarantee the minority rights enshrined in the Sri Lankan Constitution.