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Political troika puts Sri Lanka President on notice

ECONOMYNEXT – An influential troika within the government has put President Maithripala Sirisena on notice to deliver on promised reforms by next month’s independence anniversary or face serious political consequences.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne who led the breakaway faction from the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime in late 2014 is under pressure from over 40 civil society organisations to deliver or depart.

Senaratne has been told that the civil organisations which played a key role in Sirisena’s electoral success will withdraw their support and mount a campaign to press for political reforms and action against corruption.

"There is dissatisfaction among those who voted us in," Senaratne told a group of close supporters this week. "If these civil society organisations go, I have no choice, I will have to take a drastic political decision."

Senaratne and his cabinet colleagues Champika Ranawaka and Arjuna Ranatunga have already informed the president that they must come up with a clear strategy by the Independence anniversary on February 4.

Unable to vent his anger against Sirisena directly, Senaratne last week lambasted the presidential secretary P. B. Abeykoon who has been linked to some of the questionable deals of the previous administration.

Apart from a failure to take decisive legal action against any of the high profile individuals in the previous regime, except Basil Rajapaksa, most of the investigations have stalled.

The assassination of Lasantha Wickrematunga, the Eknaligoda murder and the Thajudeen killing are some of the few high profile cases which are still dragging without suspects being arrested.

President Sirisena told denied he was blocking the investigations, but official sources said the slow progress was due to conflicting signals from the political establishment.

The controversial Avant Garde case is also dragging amid allegations that members of the current administration had also cut deals to stall the investigation.





Sirisena’s record in making key appointments is also dismal. From the appointment of his brother to head Sri Lanka telecom to naming tainted individuals to state enterprises has irked many government loyalists.

It is unlikely that the three ministers will walk out of the government by the February 4 deadline they have set for the President to deliver, but the move is deepening rifts within the uneasy coalition. (Colombo/Jan22/2016)

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