The United National Front will propose that Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka be appointed a non-Cabinet Minister for Internal Affairs, senior Minister Lakshman Kiriella told RepublicNext today.
He said that the decision to appoint Fonseka to this post was taken by the UNF leadership last night at a meeting held at Temple Trees.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to send in the proposal to President Maithripala Sirisena shortly.
But Kiriella was not sure it was a done deal. “We can propose the appointment but the power to allocate the subjects of each ministry is in the hands of the President,” he pointed out.
“In the past there have been instances that the President has not heeded our proposals, even in my case when the PM proposed that I oversee the State Banks the President did not agree,” he said.
Ministry handles Immigration and Emigration
The Ministry of Internal Affairs was at one time in charge of a number of key subjects including Law and Order and Immigration.
However in recent years Law and Order has been hewed out and made a separate ministry which is currently under the president.
That leaves only the Department of Immigration and Emigration as a substantive task for the Minister.
At present Internal Affairs is handled by Minister Vajira Abeywardene who also has the subjects of Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government under him.
However a crucial factor is that the Minister of Internal Affairs is the final authority to grant citizenship in Sri Lanka. This means Sri Lankans who renounced their citizenship rights in Sri Lanka to obtain citizenship elsewhere can be denied dual citizenship if the Minister deems so.
This has led to speculation that this move is against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who needs to secure Sri Lankan citizenship to renounce his US citizenship in order to qualify to run for President.