Following severe criticism levelled against Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe at yesterday’s UNP Central Committee and Parliamentary Group meeting, the party will attempt to resolve the ensuing standoff on Monday.
Minister Rajapakshe is expected to meet Prime Minister and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in the coming days and make a final decision by Monday, sources within the UNP told Daily FT.
Rajapakshe is also expected to make a statement on the issue on Monday, sources said.
Criticising Rajapakshe, the UNP Parliamentary Group called for the Justice Minister’s resignation.
“Speaker after speaker fiercely criticised Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. No one came to his defence,” said State Minister Harsha De Silva.
Rajapakshe yesterday came under fire from members of his party for “the way he has been handling the ministry, breaching the collective responsibility of the Cabinet”.
The discussion centred on his handling of the Justice Ministry, where a lack of progress on corruption investigations was attributed to Rajapakshe’s unwillingness to proceed with matters, Daily FT learns.
Further, the Minister was also criticised on the statements he made on the Hambantota Port deal.
Rajapakshe had said that he was faced with different constraints beyond his control in prosecuting corruption cases while deny making any comments against the Hambantota Port deal.
Discussions during the party meeting also focused on a possible swap in the ministry portfolios to relieve Rajapakshe of the Justice Ministry, sources said.
Criticism against Rajapakshe built up over the weeks leading up to the Party Working Committee Meeting with a number of junior ministers of the UNP being openly critical of the Justice Minister’s conduct and calling for a no-confidence motion against him.
The party backbenchers maintained their demand for his removal from the Justice Ministry to ensure corruption cases linked to the past regime were fast-tracked.
“This is an election promise we have given the people. While we don’t intend to influence the Judiciary in any way, we have to ensure that the cases are processed properly,” De Silva stated.