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Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena reshuffles his Cabinet  

Six Cabinet ministers had resigned on April 12, after they voted against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the no-trust motion moved by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition on April 4.

By: PTI | Colombo |
May 1, 2018 8:35:40 pm
Maithripala Sirisena reshuffles his Cabinet   Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena (AP/File Photo)  

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday reshuffled his Cabinet for the fourth time and changed the portfolios of 18 ministers, weeks after six ministers had resigned from his National Unity Government. The reshuffle followed months of political impasse since the local council election mid-February, win which the ruling coalition of the SLFP and the UNP had suffered a crushing defeat in the hands of the Rajapaksa’s new party.

Six Cabinet ministers had resigned on April 12, after they voted against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the no-trust motion moved by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Joint Opposition on April 4. Following the resignations, four acting Cabinet ministers were sworn-in on April 12 by the President. In today’s reshuffle, former Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, who was sacked in August last year, was appointed as the Minister of Higher Education and Cultural Affairs.

The Higher Education portfolio was earlier held by Kabir Hashim, who was appointed as the Minister of Highways and Road Development, while Thalatha Athukorala was made the Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms. Former Sri Lanka Army chief and Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, who was holding the charge of the Regional Development Ministry, was sworn in as the Minister of Sustainable Development, Wildlife and Regional Development.

The United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) General Secretary Mahinda Amaraweera, who was the Fisheries Minister, was appointed as the Minister of Agriculture while SLFP General Secretary, who was holding the charge of the Agriculture Ministry, was appointed as the Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management and Disaster Management.

Following the reshuffle, two portfolios of Social Empowerment and Labour Relations, which were earlier held by the UPFA members, were given to the coalition partner the UNP. P Harrison of the UNP was made the Minister of Social Empowerment while Ravindra Samaraweera was appointed as the Minister of Labour and Trade Union Relations. Minister for Provincial Councils and Local Government Faiszer Musthapha, who was made the acting Minister of Sports, was sworn-in as the Provincial Councils and Local Government and Sports minister.

Lakshman Kiriella was made the Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandy Development; Sarath Amunugama, the Minister of Science, Technology and Research, Skills Development and Vocational Training, and Hill Country Heritage; S B Navinna, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Wayamba Development. The Irrigation and Water Resources Management and Disaster Management portfolio was given to Duminda Dissanayake, while Public Administration and Management and Law and Order portfolios to Ranjith Maddumabandara.

Vijith Vijayamuni Zoysa was made the Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development and Rural Economy, while D M Swaminathan, the Minister of Rehabilitation, Resettlement, Northern Development and Hindu Religious Affairs, Sagala Ratnayake, the Minister of Project Management, Youth Affairs and Southern Development, while Mano Ganesan as the Minister of National Co-existence, Reconciliation and Official Languages, and Daya Gamage the Minister of Social Welfare and Primary Industries.

The Joint Opposition had been demanding a snap parliamentary poll ahead of the August 2020 schedule, but according to the Constitution, no election can be called before February 2020. The next national election will be to elect the president, which must be called by November next year.

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