President Maithripala Sirisena will appoint a new Cabinet of Ministers today (1), at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. The Government yesterday (30 April), announced that all current Cabinet Members had been summoned to participate in the ceremony.
General Secretary of the United People’s Freedom Alliance and Minister Mahinda Amaraweera told CeylonToday, all the Government MPs and Ministers had been summoned to the Presidential Secretariat at 9:30 a.m.
When queried as to whether the Group of 16 Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) MPs, who resigned from their Cabinet portfolios following the April No-Faith Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, will attend today, Amaraweera said, the group will play no part in the event.
Former State Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardene, one of the group of dissidents, claimed that none of the 16 had received invitations to participate. He emphasized that, as mentioned before, the group will sit with the Opposition in the Parliament, despite the Cabinet appointments, come 8 May, when Parliament reconvenes after the prorogation.
The United National Party (UNP) faction of the consensual Government also confirmed the reports regarding the appointment of new Ministers.
Speaking to Ceylon Today, Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Gayantha Karunatileka said that all the UNP Ministers had received invitations to attend the meeting at the Presidential Secretariat.
Karunatileka however said that they had not been informed about changes in the Ministerial portfolios. “We merely received invitations to participate in the special meeting and the invitations did not mention any information other than that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Leader of the Tamil Progressive Alliance Minister Mano Ganesan, noted that the invitation had been sent out to them, requesting mandatory attendance in addition to the usual weekly Cabinet meeting with the President.
This reshuffle will be the fourth of its kind, since 2015 when the unity Government came to power.
The changes have been anticipated and proposed by many, following the controversial conclusion of the No-Confidence vote of 4 April, following which six Cabinet Ministers of the SLFP, stood down from their portfolios. Subsequently, the President appointed temporary Ministers to the vacated subjects during the latter part of April.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 4 April, during the UNP Parliamentary Group meeting, prior to the no-confidence motion vote, had reportedly promised to give more space for the UNP backbenchers in the new Cabinet.
President Sirisena has claimed all subjects will be systematically and scientifically allocated among the Ministers.
Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne had previously reported that the process will be jointly carried out by the Secretaries to the President and the Prime Minister.
(Source: Ceylon Today – By Methmalie Dissanayake, Kavindya Chris Thomas and Mirudulah Thambiah)