Sri Lankan investigators to probe Parliament brawl

Colombo, May 4 (IANS) Sri Lanka launched an investigation into clashes in Parliament between legislators from the ruling and the opposition parties, Media Minister Gayantha Karunathilleke said on Wednesday.

Addressing the media, Karunathilleke said the government regretted the incident of Tuesday which left several lawmakers injured and one hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The government blamed opposition members loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapakse for the brawl, the worst in recent years.

Karunathilleke said the government had urged Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to initiate a separate investigation and assured that legal action would be taken against all the lawmakers involved in the violence.

A fight between opposition and government lawmakers erupted when former army chief Sarath Fonseka, now a minister, said a bomb blast apparently targeting Sri Lanka’s former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse in 2006 was an “inside job”.

Fonseka’s statement, that the 2006 bombing was aimed at winning sympathy for the then ruling family, was cut short when lawmakers loyal to the former president objected.

A heated exchange of words took place when opposition legislator Dinesh Gunawardena questioned Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on his decision to withdraw the security guards for Mahinda Rajapaksa stating that such a move placed the former ruler’s life at risk as he had defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009.

Violence then erupted between the two sides before Speaker Jayasuriya was forced to suspend the session.

–IANS

ksk/mr

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