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Violence in Sri Lankan parliament over bond sale scandal

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Colombo, Jan 10 (UITV/IANS) - Violence erupted in the Sri Lankan parliament on Wednesday as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe read a statement over a Treasury bond scam at the central bank.

Opposition legislators launched a protest in the middle of the House as Wickremesinghe read his statement, calling for the parliament speaker to divulge the details of the Treasury bond scam which had been probed by a special presidential commission, Xinhua news agency reported.

The situation soon turned violent when an object was hurled at the Prime Minister.

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya suspended sittings for 10 minutes to restore normalcy.

"I am told that never in history had there been a brawl in the Chamber like the one just now," Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Development Harsha De Silva tweeted.

"Utter pandemonium in parliament. Apparently someone threw an object at the PM while he was speaking in the Chamber. Didn't see who it was. Disgraceful."

Even after the 10-minute suspension, a fist fight was reported between opposition and government legislators.

The Prime Minister was unhurt in the clashes. However, Kavinda Jayawardena of the ruling United National Party was taken to the parliament medical centre after he was injured in the brawl.

The Treasury is said to have lost (Sri Lankan) Rs 11,145 million (about $72 million) due to the bond scam and other malpractices which were allegedly committed during the watch of former central bank chief Arjuna Mahendran and some bank officials when the new government took office in 2015.

Mahendran was appointed the central bank chief in 2015 by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe before the bonds scam allegedly took place. He resigned a year later.

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member presidential commission to probe the bond scam in January 2017. The commission has handed over its report to the President last month.