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Sri Lanka defence portfolio left out of gazette

ECONOMYNEXT – The official gazette notification announcing the new cabinet has left out the defence portfolio despite President Gotabaya Rajapakasa’s office listing him in a press release as the minister in charge of the subject.

A day after the swearing in ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, the secretary to the president, P. B. Jayasundera, issued the formal announcement by way of an extraordinary gazette listing the 25 cabinet ministers and their portfolios. T
here was no mention of a defence portfolio.

However, the master of ceremonies at the swearing in had announced that the president will function as the minister of defence. His press office had issued an ambiguous statement saying that the cabinet comprised 25 ministers, but went onto list 26 ministers, including the President.

Sri Lanka’s 19th amendment, among other things, was intended to prevent the president holding a ministerial position. A transitional provision (Article 51) allowed former president Maithripala Sirisena to hold three portfolis – Defence, Mahaweli and Environment – and not for any of his successors.

The latest gazette suggests that the government will maintain the status quo since November when Gotabaya Rajapaksa took office and abstained from naming a defence minister.

However, he functioned in that capacity having his elder brother Chamal as the state minister for defence to respond to any queries in parliament relating to the defence ministry. (Colombo/Aug15/2020)