Speaker Karu Jayasuriya said that an anonymous caller had threatened him with death unless he recognised the joint opposition MPs as a separate group within Parliament.
"It is essential to resolve matters without resorting to disruptive acts and using force, and I must inform the House that someone called me on Tuesday night and told me that I would be killed if I failed to recognise the joint opposition MPs as a separate group," he said.
Mr Jayasuriya requested that the joint opposition MPs discuss the matter with the president. He said it was the SLFP which had a problem and that the opposition MPs should resolve it within the party. He said he would have no problem with recognising joint opposition as a separate group if matters were resolved within the party .
MP Dullas Alahapperuma said an inquiry should be carried out to find out who had threatened the Speaker with death.
MP Wimal Weerawansa said the Speaker should not worry about issues within political parties and only decide whether to recognise the joint opposition as a separate group.
The matter came up when MP Dinesh Gunawardane raised a point of order stating that the issue of the joint opposition should be resolved without delay. He said the matter had been hanging fire for five months without a settlement.
MP Bandula Gunawardane said the joint opposition did not want the opposition leader's post. He said that the issue was that the group had not been given the right to raise questions under Standing Order 23(2) and move adjournment debates.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said matters could be resolved through a committee.
Mr Gunawardane said there should be a time frame within which the committee should come up with its recommendations.
It was decided that a committee would be appointed when President Maithripala Sirisena completed his tour of Germany. The time frame and other criteria were to be decided after the president's return. (Yohan Perera)