By Skandha Gunasekara
Hoping to rejuvenate the Government with new appointments, President Maithripala Sirisena’s much-anticipated Cabinet reshuffle will take place this morning, Secretary to the President Austin Fernando said yesterday.
Elaborating further, the Secretary to the President told Daily FT it would not a complete reshuffle but a partial one, where some would maintain the current portfolios while others would be given new ministerial appointments.
This could be seen as contrary to expectations as earlier announcements had emphasised a “new” Cabinet, hinting at sweeping changes.
National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Minister Mano Ganesan also confirmed the swearing in on twitter saying that Ministers had been requested to be present at 9.30am.
“The weekly Cabinet meetings held on every Tuesday will not be held and it will be only ceremonial oath taking ceremony,” he added.
Speculation was also rife that former Foreign Minister and United National Party (UNP) Assistant Leader Ravi Karunanayake could make a comeback in the latest appointments after President Sirisena declined to rule it out during a BBC interview during his visit to London in April.
The new Cabinet will be appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat today at 10 a.m.
The reshuffle comes just two months after the two main parties in the Unity Government, the UNP and the SLFP, found themselves on the back foot against the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) backed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, at the Local Government elections that were held on 10 February.
The Government’s defeat at the LG polls resulted in a No-Confidence Motion being brought against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, by the Joint Opposition, which was defeated by a majority of 46 votes.
Thereafter 16 SLFPers, including six Cabinet Ministers, who voted in favor of the No-Confidence Motion against the Premier, decided to sit in the Opposition as an independent SLFP group.
Accordingly, MPs Susil Premajayantha, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Dilan Perera, John Seneviratne, Lakshman Wasantha Perera, Dr. Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Susantha Punchinilame, Anura Yapa, S.B. Dissanayake, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Chandima Weerakkody, Anuradha Jayaratne, Sumedha Jayasena and Thilanga Sumathipala will sit in the Opposition side of the aisle in Parliament.
This will be the fourth reshuffle of the Cabinet of Ministers since President Sirisena was elected in January 2015.