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Tragi-comic turn in latest round of ministerial appointments


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  • Plethora of UPFA MPs facing serious criminal allegations gets deputy minister slots
  • Firebrand economist and UNP’s number three in Colombo District Harsha de Silva made Deputy Foreign Minister as opposed to Economic Affairs and Policy previously
  • Niroshan Perera– State Minister of National Policy and Economic Affairs
  • Sujeewa Senasinghe is deputy for Malik Samarawickrema as State Minister for International Trade
  • Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena gets State Minister for Finance 
  • Mohan Lal Grero – University Education

 

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The next installment of ministerial appointments to the National Government yesterday took a tragi-comic turn, when a plethora of UPFA MPs facing serious criminal allegations took oaths before President Maithripala Sirisena as state and deputy ministers.

In a bizarre twist, UPFA MP Nimal Lanza, whose house was raided by the STF for drugs and illegal vehicles in October 2011 and Galle District MP Nishantha Mutuhettigama who was arrested on charges of attacking a police station and causing the resignation of the Wandurama OIC, were both appointed deputy ministers in the Government led by the United National Front for Good Governance.

Mutuhettigama was appointed Deputy Minister for Ports and Shipping.

UPFA National List MP and SLFP Spokesman Dilan Perera, a vociferous critic of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during the 100-day Government while holding ministerial office, was reappointed as State Minister for Highways.

UPFA Kurunegala District MP T.B. Ekanayake, who was recently removed from the UPFA executive committee, presumably for his overzealous support of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the August parliamentary election, was also rewarded with a state ministry. Ekanayake was sworn in by President Sirisena yesterday as State Minister for Lands.

Priyankara Jayaratne took oaths as Deputy Minister for Law and Order and Prison Reforms at the ceremony held at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday. A former Civil Aviation Minister in the Rajapaksa cabinet, Jayaratne is infamous for storming into the Karuwalagaswewa police station in June 2014 to free the region’s Pradeshiya Sabha Deputy Chairman Chamindra Ruwansiri who had been arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Staunch Mahinda Rajapaksa loyalist Arundika Fernando also made the cut, initially taking oaths as Deputy Minister for Home Affairs. But just hours later, the Presidential Media Division announced that Fernando and Lanza, who had been initially appointed deputy minister of tourism and Christian Affairs, had “exchanged” portfolios and taken oaths again.

The UPFA list of deputy ministers has caused widespread concern in UNP ranks, after the coalition won power on a platform to promote good governance and pledged to take a hardline on corruption.

“Thanks for the wishes, saddened by some of the appointments but I don’t have a control over it, but I will not stop my fight against them,” UNP Deputy Minister for Social Empowerment and Welfare Ranjan Ramanayake tweeted. Ramanayake, who polled large numbers of preferential votes in the Gampaha District, will deputise for Minister S.B. Dissanayake, who lost his seat in the August election and was appointed to Parliament through the UPFA national list.

UNP Colombo District MPs Dr. Harsha De Silva and Eran Wickremaratne were appointed deputy ministers of Foreign Affairs and State Enterprise Development respectively.

 


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