Sri Lanka cabinet shuffle to coincide with Ironman
ECONOMYNEXT – The coalition government is due to carry out its first major cabinet reshuffle on Sunday after marathon talks between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
The two men had to iron out differences over key positions with the help of trouble shooter Rajitha Senaratne, official sources said.
Ministers have been invited to be at the Presidential Secretariat for the swearing-in at an astrologically auspicious time, but the previously scheduled Ironman triathlon in the same area will clash with the cabinet event.
Most roads in the area are expected to be closed during the day to make way for the international sporting event that will involve about 3,000 athletes, police said.
Rushed arrangements were being made to ensure that the cabinet swearing-in takes places without interruption, police said.
War-time general Sarath Fonseka is tipped to be the new Law and Order minister in a revamped cabinet where the Finance and Media ministry will be bifurcated and made into two ministries.
Sagala Ratnayaka who leaves Law and Order is most likely to retain Sothern Development in addition to being the chief of staff of the Prime Minister.
Highways and Higher Education Minister Lakshman Kiriella is expected to swap his ministry with State Enterprise Development minister Kabir Hashim.
Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale will retain Justice, but give up the Foreign Employment portfolio, according to sources close to the government.
State-owned banks, insurance and the central bank will be brought back under the Finance ministry, the sources said.
It was not immediately clear if Minister Samaraweera will be retained in the finance portfolio, a position he had loathed given the fact that he could not provide jobs to his electoral constituents. However, he was under pressure to keep Finance.
Three SLFP ministers – Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara and Chandimal Weerakkody — are doubtful in the new cabinet, but they were being persuaded to stay, official sources said.
The trio had made public remarks that they may not want to be in a cabinet under premier Wickremesinghe. However, several others who made such pronouncements – Mahinda Amaraweera and John Seneviratne — have done U-turns.
The UNP wants to bring two new faces into the cabinet giving ministerial positions to those representing the Matale and Nuwara Eliya districts.
The changes were due to be made on Thursday, but the process got delayed till Sunday, just before the president leaves for Japan. (COLOMBO, February 24, 2018)