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Sri Lanka’s Parliament elects ruling party lawmaker as its Dy speaker

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Colombo, May 17: Amid the worst economic crisis in the decades, Sri Lanka's Parliament on Tuesday elected ruling party lawmaker Ajith Rajapaksa as its deputy speaker despite a heated exchange between parliamentarians over his election.

The Parliament met for the first time since the resignation of the former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and the swearing-in of the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ajith Rajapaksa was elected following a secret ballot conducted in Parliament.

Sri Lanka’s Parliament elects ruling party lawmaker as its Dy speaker

While Ajith, from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, got 109 votes and the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya nominee Rohini Kavirathna earned 78 votes, Sri Lankan media reported.

Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena said 23 votes were rejected. 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 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. PTI

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