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Tussle Between President and Prime Minister Delays Cabinet Formation with Wickremesinghe Resisting Sirisena’s Demands that Media and Law and Order Ministries be Allocated to Him.

Sri Lanka’s reinstated Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe marked his first day back in office Monday with a hostile president resisting his nominations to a new cabinet.

Party officials said Wickremesinghe was battling to form a government as Maithripala Sirisena insisted that he wanted to retain media and the law-and-order portfolios. Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP) was against giving the key portfolios to Sirisena.

“The President wants to keep law-and-order and media portfolios, but the prime minister disagrees,” a party official said adding that the tug-of-war led to the delay in forming a cabinet.

Sirisena reluctantly gave Wickremesinghe his old job back on Sunday, but made it clear that he will have a close tab on the administration signalling an uneasy cohabitation arrangement.

A new cabinet was to be named Monday, but there were no signs of finalising a list of ministers 24 hours after Wickremesinghe was sworn.

There was no immediate comment from the president’s office, but shortly after swearing-in Wickremesinghe, the president launched a scathing attack on him, accusing his previous administration of corruption.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the UNP staged a major rally at Galle Face on Monday afternoon to mark the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe after the judiciary and the legislature ruled against the power grab of Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine.