Sri Lanka cabinet appointed by Sirisena after political crisis; power tussle not over yet

New Delhi: Putting an end to the months-long political crisis in Sri Lanka, President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday installed a 30-member cabinet while rejecting some of PM Ranil Wickremesinghe’s nominees. Sirisena made it a point to keep the security forces and police under his control, signalling that the power tussle is still on between them. What is more striking is the President has not appointed a law and order minister, a crucial post for investigating corruon allegations against former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family.

Wickremesinghe was reinstalled as the Prime Minister on December 16 and the new cabinet was appointed after a delay of three days since then.

The differences between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe over cabinet nominees caused the unexpected delay to extend to three days. Sirisena rejected Wickremesinghe’s nominees for Cabinet positions from those who had defected from his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP. At least three senior SLFP leaders had defected to Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP during the political crisis.

Sirisena, who holds the Defence and Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry portfolios, has retained his control over the police, which is investigating an alleged plot to kill him.

The plot widened the gulf between Sirisena and Wickremesinghe.

Sri Lanka was plunged into an unprecedented constitutional crisis on October 26, when Sirisena sacked Prime Minister Wickremsinghe and installed Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place. He also dissolved the 225-member Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5. He had publicly vowed not to reinstate Wickremesinghe.
However, after the 51-day political standoff in the country, Wikcremsinghe was re-appointed by Sirisena following a Supreme Court order