Dr.Sarath Amunugama, social anthropologist, historian and administrator, has been appointed Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister in the new government formed by President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa following the ouster of Ranil Wckremesinghe from the Premiership last Friday.
President Maithripala Sirisena, by convention, continues to be Defense Minister. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa takes the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs; Nimal Siripala de Silva is Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation; Mahinda Samarasinghe is Minister of Ports and Shipping.
Mahinda Amaraweera is Minister of Agriculture. Ranjith Siyambalapitiya is Minister of Power and Renewable Energy; Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is Minister of Education and Higher Education. Wijith Wijayamuni Zoysa becomes Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources Development and Rural Economic Affairs.
Faiszer Musthapha is Minister of Provincial Councils, Local Government, and Sports; Douglas Devananda is Minister of Resettlement, Rehabilitation, Northern Development, & Hindu Religious Affairs; Arumugam Thondaman is Minister of Hill Country New Villages, Infrastructure and Community Development. Vasantha Senanayake is Minister of Tourism and Wildlife.
Changes in the portfolios as compared with the previous government are marginal.
Only one State Minister was announced on Friday. Suresh Vadivel becomes State Minister of Plantation Industries. Suresh Vadivel is a defector from the Wickremesinghe;s United National Party (UNP). The lone Deputy Minister is Ananda Aluthgamage, a defector from UNP. He will handle the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife.
Suresh Vadivel and Arumugam Tondaman were also not in previous council of ministers.
Cabinet minister Arumugam Thondaman is from the Ceylon Workers’ Congress, a party of Indian Origin Tamil plantation workers. Douglas Devananda is from the Tamil-speaking Jaffna district of North Sri Lanka and represents the Eelam Peoples’ Democratic Front (EPDP). Suresh Vadivel is from Badulla ,a plantation district. All three are Tamils but barring Devananda, who is the only Sri Lankan Tamil, others are of Indian origin.
Sirisena Faction Dominates First Lot
Except for the two defectors from the United National Front (UNF) led by Wickremesinghe, all the cabinet and junior ministers announced on Monday are from the Sirisena faction of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA).
The cabinet as well as list of junior ministers will go up later this week, as MPs from the Rajapaksa faction of the UPFA and the Joint Opposition will have to be accommodated.
Cap Placed by 19 th.Amendment
On Monday only 12 cabinet ministers, one State Minister and a single Deputy Minister were appointed. But as per the 19 th.Amendment of the constitution, enacted in 2015, the number of cabinet ministers could be up to thirty and the number of State and Deputy Ministers could be up to 40.
Therefore, many berths are vacant and these are expected to be allotted to members of the Rajapaksa-ed UPFA faction and defectors from Wickremesinghe’s UNF.