Sri Lanka’s Sirisena names new cabinet

Maithripala Sirisena
Maithripala Sirisena

Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday named a 30-member cabinet, but retained the control over the nation’s police by ignoring the prime minister’s nominees, indicating that there was still a tussle between him and Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Wickremesinghe was reinstated as prime minister on Sunday after the Supreme Court.

“The forming of the cabinet was delayed because the president wanted to retain media and the police,” government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said as the new cabinet was announced.

“He conceded the media ministry, but will retain control over the police for a little longer.”

Sirisena, who also serves as defence minister, will take responsibility for the police.

The island nation plunged into political turmoil on October 26 after Sirisena sacked Wickremesinghe in and named former president Mahinda Rajapakse as prime minister. Following opposition, Sirisena had to backtrack.

Although Wickremesinghe got his job back on Sunday, Sirisena made it clear they wouldn’t have a comfortable working relationship.

“I still believe that I should not have made Ranil Wickremesinghe the prime minister, but I bow to the wishes of the majority in parliament,” Sirisena said.

“But, I don’t know how far we will succeed in fulfilling the wishes of our people.”

In a statement from his official residence, Wickremesinghe said: “Now I will assume duties of the office of prime minister.

“Unfortunately, during the past few weeks, the progress of this country and the development programs that we undertook were stalled,” he said. “Not only that, the country went backward. Today we commit firstly to bring back normalcy and resuming the development program.”