The Speaker said on his Twitter handle @KaruOnline that the appointment was done “upholding established Parliamentary traditions that should not be violated.”
The Speaker also said he also empathised with the challengers, but “it is best that a party’s internal disputes are settled from within.”
Two groups within the UNF have made a claim for the post of Leader of the Opposition, one backing Party Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and the other former Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa.
United National Party (UNP) Secretary General Akila Viraj Kariyawasam wrote to Jayasuriya last week, nominating Wickremesinghe to the post of Opposition Leader, while MP Ajith Perera submitted a letter to the Speaker with 45 signatures, recommending Premadasa for the post.
The Speaker previously explained that the process of naming an Opposition Leader does not come within the ambit of the Committee on Parliamentary Business, which he heads, and this is a matter that needs to be resolved within the UNP, as it is an internal Party matter.
According to parliamentary tradition, the person who is recognised as the Leader of the Opposition is the leader of the political party which has the majority of members among Opposition parties in the Legislature.
The UNP has 106 seats in Parliament but has opted to sit in Opposition following the election of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He is backed by the UPFA which has 95 seats as well as the one EPDP member. Additionally, the ITAK, JVP and the SLMC together have 23 seats.