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Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena carries out second Cabinet reshuffles

In Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena today carried out his second cabinet reshuffle this year and fourth since the new government took oath in August 2015. A total of 18 changes were made including new faces and change in portfolios.

Former minister Wijedasa Rajapakse, who was removed from cabinet last year after criticizing the government, was included as Minister of education.

The reshuffle comes after Prime Minister Wickremesinghe won the no-confidence motion in Parliament last month. However, 16 ministers and MPs from Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) headed by President were forced to resign after they voted for the motion.

The group has decided to sit in parliament as a separate opposition group. The political turmoil also led to the suspension of Parliament and will recommence on 8th of this month when President is scheduled to address the session.

The unity government of SLFP and the United National Party (UNP) was thrown into a crisis after former president Mahinda Rajapakse’s Joint opposition group won local elections held in February. The last reshuffle carried on February 25th only affected changes to UNP portfolios.

The Rajapakse camp is pushing for a snap parliamentary election ahead of the scheduled August 2020. However, the next election due is the presidential election which must be called by November 2019.

Sri Lankan President has carried out two cabinet reshuffles since local body elections in February where ruling parties lost to opposition alliance led by former President Mahinda Rajapakse. Today’s reshuffle may not be final as there are differences of opinion between the two parties of unity government. 16 members of Sri Lankan Freedom party (SLFP) led by President had resigned after they voted for no confidence motion against Prime minister Ranil Wickremsinghe last month.

The group is pressurizing the remaining 23 SLFP members to leave government. On the other hand, former President Mahinda Rajapakse is pushing hard for snap parliamentary elections saying the government has lost the mandate to rule.

Source: AIR