Contrary to speculative reports in sections of the media that President Sirisena is acting on his own withoit consulting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in the envisaged cabinet re-shuffle scheduled for Monday May 22nd 2017, it is learnt reliably that the important decision to bring about changes in the allocation of certain portfolios as well as re- designation of some departments coming under purview of particular ministries was not taken by the President alone.
Instead of being a unilateral decision of the President, the mini cabinet re-shuffle decision is a trilateral one taken together by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in conjunction with former President Chandrika Kumaratuga stated well-informed sources.
The sources also stated authoritatively that President Sirisena and Prime minister Wickremesinghe arrived at a joint decision after much discussion on re-allocating ministeria portfolios and departments which was endorsed by former President Chandrika Kumaratunga. There was no question of President Sirisena going ahead with the reshuffle against the wishes of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe or taking a decision without consulting him reiterated the sources
The most crucial decision in the envisaged re-shuffle will be a key exchange of portfolios between Finance minister Ravi Karunanayake and Foreign Affairs Minister Mangala Samaraweera. Karunanayake will become the new Foreign affairs minister while Samaraweera will become the new Finance minister, In addition to Finance, Mangala Samaraweera will also handle the media ministry in future. The present Mass Media and Parliamentary Reforms minister Gayantha Karunatilleka will continue to retain Parliamentary reforms while being allocated the Lands ministry. He will also continue to be the chief Govt whip.
Though Premier Ranil was earlier reluctant to agree to a re-shuffle of portfolios held by United National Party (UNP) members, he had later been amenable to changes it is learnt. Informed sources said that in the final analysis all provisions of the 19th Constitutional amendment were adhered to.
After unofficial discussion the Constitutional requirement of the President officially consulting the Prime Minister was met. All the ministerial changes to be announced by President Sirisena have been formally recommended by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe it is re;iably learnt.
Will Ravi Karunayake Revolt Against Finance Ministry Being Taken Away?
There was much speculation in political and media circles whether Cabinet minisyter Ravi Kaunanayake who has strenuously objected to being changed from his Finance ministry will accept his “transfer”. The President and Prime Minister had no choice other than to transfer Karunanayake from the Finance ministry because of innumerable complaints against his style of functioning. Matters were further complicated due to allegations of corruption.
A cabal of political movers and shakers close tto ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa have been trying to engineer a revolt by Ravi Karunanayake on this matter. Even ex-president Rajapaksa is reported to have telephoned Ravi and expressed “sympathy” over his ministerial change. However it is learnt that the majority of UNP and SLFP parliamentarians are happy about Karunanayake being de-linked from the Finance ministry.
It remains to be seen therefore whether Ravi Karunanayake will revolt against the move with his supporters or whether saner counsel will prevail.