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Coalition politics hold up Sri Lanka’s cabinet

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s new government is set for a political record by opening the new parliament without a proper cabinet. The formation of a government is being held up due to coalition politics.

Ruling United National Party (UNP) sources said the new cabinet is likely to be sworn on September 2, a day after the opening of parliament by President Maithripala Sirisena with a policy statement of the new administration.

By the time parliament opens, there will be only three ministers – foreign, justice and resettlement — and the prime minister who has not been assigned any functions.

UNP chairman Malik Samarawickrama issued a statement Wednesday saying they have reached agreement with the SLFP on a unity government, but it did not say how the portfolios will be shared or if the August 21 MOU stands or not.

Both parties have expressed reservations about their MOU which was hastily signed without going into details. It was more a display of haste than thought out national political consensus, official sources from both sides said.

There is speculation that the UNP would now take 30 portfolios and concede 15 to SLFP defectors.

The parliament does not recognise the SLFP as a separate party as they faced the August 17 election as UPFA candidates and the classification is also going to cause new problems for President Sirisena.

In the event a group of UPFA/SLFP claiming they are in a national government with the UNP as defined in the 19th amendment, the leader of the opposition slot should go to the TNA’s R. Sampanthan. (Colombo/Aug26/2015)

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