Confusion over defence portfolio
Following this morning’s swearing-in of the caretaker Cabinet of Ministers, there appears to be some confusion over who was assigned the all-important Defence Ministry.
Some earlier reports indicated that newly appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had been assigned the Defence portfolio in addition to the Ministries of Finance, Buddha Sasana, Urban Development and others.
In the English version of a list of appointments posted by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s on his official Facebook page, the Prime Minister was noted as holding the Defence, Public Security and Law & Order portfolio.
In the same post, in Sinhala, however, it omits the Ministry from the Premier’s list of portfolios. A news story on the President’s Media Division (PMD) website also excludes the Defence Ministry from his ministries.
President Rajapaksa’s spokesman Milinda Rajapaksha tweeted a list of appointees this morning, in which Prime Minister Rajapaksa was named Defence Minister.
An official spokesman for the President’s Office later told RepublicNext that the Defence Ministry is under the purview of the President.
However, as per the 19th amendment to the Constitution, the new president cannot hold a Ministry. As of now, it remains unclear who is holding the position.
Senior lawyer Gehan Gunatilleke expressed hope that the President abides by the Constitution and hand over the Defence Ministry to his brother, the Prime Minister.