By “The Morning” Political Editor
Several former Ministers and State Ministers, including Sarath Weerasekara, Johnston Fernando, Dullas Alahapperuma, Bandula Gunawardena, Gamini Lokuge, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, and Jeevan Thondaman would not be part of the new Cabinet of Ministers, which political sources indicate would be youth-heavy and sworn in today (18).
In addition, our sources said that the Cabinet would be limited to 15 members, and that former Ministers and State Ministers Basil Rajapaksa, Namal Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, and Shasheendra Rajapaksa would also not be part of the new Cabinet, amidst continuing mass protests against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the Government.
In the absence of these prominent figures, a few less-familiar faces are set to receive Cabinet Ministerial portfolios, in a bid to appease the protesting public, and signal that the Government is embarking on a new path to emerge from the economic crisis.
Former Minister of Mass Media and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) MP Dullas Alahapperuma, in a Twitter post yesterday (17), said that he would not accept a position in the new Cabinet of Ministers, as he believes that a Government consisting of all the political parties represented in Parliament will be the best option at this critical juncture.
“I stand by my decision (made on 3 April) to not accept a Cabinet position. I believe a Government consisting of all parties in Parliament will be the best option at this critical juncture. History bears witness to it. Wish my best to the soon-to-be-appointed youth-heavy new Cabinet,” the Tweet said.
In a Facebook post, former Trade Minister and SLPP MP Bandula Gunawardena also said that he would not accept a ministerial post in a future Government. He said that he met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on 15 April, and submitted in writing a lengthy explanation of the situation in the country and a series of measures to be taken to alleviate the problems of the economy and living standards. He had further requested that a new Cabinet of Ministers consisting of no less than 15 young, educated, efficient ministers be appointed, as the previous Cabinet had already resigned.
“Accordingly, at a meeting of former Cabinet Ministers held yesterday, a group of former Ministers also agreed to my proposal and pledged that they would not take over the posts of the new Cabinet, and would continue to support the Government’s programme,” he said.
Former Minister of Public Security, Rear Admiral (Retd.) Sarath Weerasekara also announced yesterday (17) that he would not take up any position in the new Cabinet of Ministers, due to the current crisis in the country.
The SLPP MP stated this by issuing a brief statement regarding his decision. Weerasekera further stated that he will always stand for the unity of the country, the Buddhasasana, and the people, and also that he will continue to do his duty for the country and the people.
Political sources revealed that the current posts of State Ministers will remain the same. However, Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) General Secretary and former State Minister of Estate Housing and Community Infrastructure Jeevan Thondaman says that he too will not be taking up any Cabinet ministry. He stated that upon his resignation as a State Minister, he had communicated to the ruling party that he will not be taking up any portfolio until “solutions are provided and changes are made”.
The first meeting of the new Cabinet is expected to be held today evening.