Sri Lankan lawmakers exchange blows over corruption claims
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan lawmakers exchanged blows in Parliament on Wednesday during a debate over alleged corruption in a bond issue that has marred the reputation of a government elected on a platform of good governance.
The brawl erupted after opposition lawmakers protested in the chamber as Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was speaking on the bond issue.
A recent presidential inquiry report said the son-in-law of a former central bank governor benefited from leaked inside information on the bond issue.
Opposition lawmakers first lodged a protest that they haven’t been given the report and later walked into the middle of the chamber while shouting slogans and carrying placards. Government lawmakers also walked into the well of the chamber and a brawl soon broke out.
About 50 lawmakers from both sides of the 225-member Parliament took part in the scrum. It was unclear if anyone was injured, but some lawmakers had their shirts torn off.
The former central bank governor was a confidante of Wickremesinghe, who picked by him for the position.
The inquiry report said the former central bank governor’s son-in-law made a quick profit of $72 million and the state suffered a loss of about $55 million. It also recommended bribery charges be filed against the then finance minister, who allegedly lived in a luxury apartment paid for by the ex-governor’s son-in-law.
Sri Lanka’s government won election three years ago after promising to investigate alleged large-scale irregularities under its predecessors.