Battles over attempt to form new Sri Lanka cabinet

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s United National Front has to trim ministers down to 30 from the 33 in the last coalition administration, as negotiations are underway with a hostile President who wants police and media, political sources said.

At a meeting of the parliamentary group Tuesday morning UNF Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for volunteers to step down.

Malik Samarawickreme, Rishard Bathiudeen and Mano Ganesan had offered to step down, political sources said.

But legislators Eran Wickremeratne and Harsha de Silva had opposed the resignation of Bathiudeen and Ganeshan saying members of the UNF should step down. Fellow legislators had approved the suggestion by thumping on tables, political sources said.

Legislator Navin Dissanayake had said that the UNP leader should not be pushed against the wall in making decisions.

There have also been suggestions to drop national list nominees.

Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa had suggested that 30 capable (daksha) ministers be appointed which will have public credibility.

Wickremesinghe sidelined younger members in 2015 and appointed party seniors and so-called cronies who then undermined the credibility of the new administration.

Wickremesinghe is also battling with President Sirisena who wants to retain the police and media. Political sources say there may be deal made to share some state media institutions.

Wickremesinghe was expected to hand over a list of nominees to President Sirisena Tuesday so that a new cabinet could quickly approve a vote on account for approval by parliament.

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Political analysts say the old guard of the UNP as well as other parties have a 1980s mindset where there is a belief that the leadership can get away with anything counting on a collective amnesia, but many members of the voting public are no longer partisan and seems to be a little ahead of them.

Most countries have progressed when the urban intelligentsia understands that the armed state has to be restrained by constitution and strong institutions for citizen’s freedom, justice and equality to blossom. (Colombo/Dec18/2018)

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