Sri Lanka sacks justice minister over Chinese port deal

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday sacked controversial Justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe for criticising a billion-dollar deal to lease the loss-making deep sea port to China.

Government spokesman Gayantha Karunathilaka said the Justice minister had violated collective cabinet responsibility and their United Nation Party (UNP) recommended his sacking to the President on Tuesday.

Rajapaskhe had told the local media that the $1.1 billion deal with China Merchants Port Holdings was a sell out and he would work to take it back at a future date.

He had also made a scathing attack on chief government spokesman and Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne on Saturday accusing him of interfering in the affairs of the justice ministry and ignoring work at his own ministry.

"Minister Rajapakshe was told to issue a retraction of his comments, but he refused and instead challenged the Prime Minister (Ranil Wickremesinghe) to sack him," a government source said.

Hours before his dismissal, Rajapakshe was seen at the home of an astrologer in Anuradhapura in the company of a former top secretary under the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. The sacked minister has been accused of secretly helping to delay prosecutions of members of the former regime accused of murder and mega corruption.

When a no-confidence resolution against Rajapakshe was mooted by the UNP last week, the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction of the SLFP said they will not support the ouster move.

Rajapakshe was not immediately available for comment, but sources close to him said that the astrologer in Anuradhapura had told him that he had a “raja yogaya,” planetary setting that would make him a political leader.

The ousted Justice minister is hoping to emerge an opposition common cand8idate at the 2020 presidential election, the sources said. (COLOMBO, August 23, 2017)





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