Sri Lanka Parliament suspended for a second day amid chaos
Thu December 9, 2004 04:16 EST .
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka(AP) Sri Lanka's parliament was suspended for a second day Thursday after opposition lawmakers protested the legislature's decision to pass several budgets without a vote.
Lawmakers from the Tamil National Alliance blocked parliamentary officials from erecting a staff that symbolically opens each session, prompting Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara to suspend Thursday's proceedings.
The legislators were protesting a decision by the ruling United National Freedom Alliance on Wednesday to approve budgets for the ministries of agriculture, power and environment without bringing it up for a vote.
Each ministry's budget can be passed without a vote unless lawmakers object. Tamil National Alliance lawmakers said their request for a vote was ignored.
Parliament was also halted Wednesday when opposition lawmakers protested against the speaker's refusal to let a jailed senior colleague attend the meeting.
Legislator S.B. Dissanayake was sentenced to two years' hard labor after being convicted Tuesday of contempt of court for critical comments he made about the Supreme Court.
Opposition lawmakers Thursday called for Dissanayake's return to Parliament.
``There is no legal provision whatsoever to deprive him of his seat,'' Mahinda Wijesekera, a legislator of the main opposition United National Front, said in a letter to Lokubandara.
Published: Thu Dec 9 06:05:01 EST 2004