Sri Lanka switches foreign, finance ministers in shake up

Sirisena swapped the portfolios held by Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake and Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera in a shake up aimed at quelling dissent within the uneasy government he has led since August 2015.

Sri Lanka switches foreign, finance ministers in shake up

World Bulletin / News Desk

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena announced his first cabinet reshuffle Monday, switching his finance and foreign ministers as he resists mounting pressure from a breakaway faction in his own party.

The president asked his cabinet to "ensure collective responsibility through friendship with each other and commitment to develop the country."

"This cabinet reshuffle will provide a new impetus to Sri Lanka's development," Sirisena said in a statement.

The two ministers -- key powerbrokers in the coalition -- have been fending off calls for their removal from a rogue faction of Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP).

Sirisena defected from the SLFP in late 2014, and with the support of the United National Party (UNP) successfully challenged his former boss and war-era president, Mahinda Rajapakse, at the 2015 presidential elections.

But Sirisena's efforts since then to wrestle back control of his SLFP have sowed tension within the joint alliance with the UNP, led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Monday's reshuffle had been foreshadowed for months, and was opposed by the UNP, which feared losing powerful posts within the coalition.

Wickremesinghe attended Monday's swearing in ceremony for new ministers, which was off limits to the press. There was no immediate comment from the UNP regarding the shake up.

Sirisena also removed Ports Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, who had been resisting government efforts to forge a partnership with China to develop a loss-making, deep-sea port in the island's south.

Ranatunga, who captained Sri Lanka to victory in the 1996 Cricket World Cup, was shifted to the petroleum ministry in the reshuffle, which saw nine ministers interchanged.

The reshuffle comes as Sirisena faces mounting criticism from the international community over the slow pace of promised reforms and delays in addressing Sri Lanka's wartime past through a mediated reconciliation process.

 

Last Mod: 22 Mayıs 2017, 14:52
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