The JVP-led NPP says that the main opposition SJB did not have the backbone to vote against the government’s deal with the IMF, in Parliament on Friday.

Addressing the media at the JVP headquarters in Pelawatte on Saturday, former JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti said that the SJB’s absence was tantamount to an indirect endorsement of the IMF loan and conditions.

“It was clear that without the SJB’s votes the resolution on IMF loan could not be defeated in Parliament. Its absence, therefore, emboldened the government MPs, especially those who were straddling the

fence, to vote for the deal,” Handunnetti said, adding that President Ranil Wickremesinghe only wanted to show that the IMF agreement had been approved by Parliament and that the SJB did not have the backbone to oppose it.

“Parliamentary approval should have been obtained before signing the IMF agreement. However, it was presented in Parliament after it was signed. The President only wanted to show that the agreement had been endorsed by Parliament. The SJB did not have the backbone to oppose it. They should have either approved it or opposed it without evading the vote,” he said.

Handunnetti said the SJB should conduct a disciplinary inquiry against all its MPs who were absent during voting, instead of claiming to conduct a disciplinary inquiry only against MP A.H.M. Fowzie, who voted in favour of the agreement.