Monday June 25, 2018

Coalition politics hold up Sri Lanka cabinet changes

By Our Political Correspondent

Apr 04, 2017 10:18 AM GMT+0530 | 0 Comment(s)

ECONOMYNEXT - The much talked about cabinet changes have been shelved due to coalition politics and once again underscoring the challenges of Sri Lanka having a dual leadership, official sources said Tuesday.

President Maithripala Sirisena had wanted to shuffle key ministers in the face of allegations of corruption, but Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's party appears to have stalled him.

There was initial speculation that the President wanted Wickremesinghe to take the finance portfolio and have a deputy minister each from the UNP and the SLFP, but that plan has been ruled out.

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera has reportedly denied swapping his portfolio with incumbent finance minister Ravi Karunanayake.

Labour minister John Seneviratne has publicly expressed a desire for a change in his job while Fisheries minister Mahinda Amaraweera has said he was told by the president to expect a different ministry shortly.

However, the United National Party, which helped Sirisena to come to power, had wanted more time to consider the proposed changes and now it appears that there will be no rocking of the boat, at least not in the short term.

Civil society activists who strongly backed Sirisena at the January 2015 election are also disillusioned and are demanding a course correction.

Prof. Sarath Wijesuriya told a public meeting in Colombo Monday that their hopes of a good governance administration had not materialised and the government was yet to deliver the promised rule of law.

Good governance activists are angry that the Financial Crimes Investigations Division as well as the CID are seen as dragging their feet in completing investigations into high profile cases.

Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga is also known to have summoned a powerful minister and upbraided him over his alleged role in protecting hate figures of the former regime.

At least one of them had gone abroad last month as the net closed in on him in cases involving the assassination of Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and attacks on other journalists during Rajapaksa’s rule.

There are allegations that a few within the government itself was trying to protect this high profile individual of the former regime because of help extended to them during Rajapaksa’s tenure.

A few senior currently serving police officers have also been implicated in trying to help cover up  the involvement of former regime figures in the killings. They have drawn the ire of president Kumaratunga who has reportedly made her displeasure known to the authorities.

Kumaratunga, an influential figure in the government, had also wanted speedy action in the on-going investigations and was concerned about the lackadaisical progress. (COLOMBO, April 4, 2017)


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