Former justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe who was sacked for criticising the government was reinstated Tuesday, but the former finance minister Ravi Karunanayake appeared to have been left out in a last minute development.
Rajapakshe was kicked out in August last year after he accused the government of a sell out to China by leasing the Hambantota port to China in a $1.1 billion deal. He was also accused of delaying prosecutions of over 100 members of the former regime accused of murder and corruption. When he left the government, he declared that he was ashamed to have been in the “yahapalana” (good governance) cabinet.
It was not clear what made Rajapakshe change his mind, but at the April 4 no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe he had voted in support of the premier and criticised the NCM.
Political sources said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe favoured reinstating former minister Ravi Karunanayake who had resigned in August after his name transpired in connection with the central bank bond scam.
It appeared that President Sirisena was not in favour of taking back Karunanayake who was tipped to get the tourism portfolio. However, party sources said there would be further discussions with Sirisena.
Under the reshuffle involving 17 ministers, the United National Party (UNP) ministers were given the Samurdhi and Labour portfolios previously held by Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers. The jobs of the six SLFP ministers were distributed among others. The size of the cabinet reduced from 46 to 40.
Sirisena had wanted the Public Administration portfolio to go to an SLFP minister, but it remained with UNP’s Ranjith Madduma Bandara who also holds the Law and Order portfolio.
The appointment of State and Deputy Ministers are scheduled for Wednesday, the President’s office said in a statement.