Interim Cabinet appointed for 100-day sprint

Tuesday, 13 January 2015 01:59 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • President warns Ministers not to get too addicted to power 
  • Strict action against anyone engaging in corruption, irrespective of rank
  • Sirisena tells Cabinet to earn back the respect of the people 
  • Ministers warned to bear in mind that they must face election in three months

By Dharisha Bastians A 27-member Cabinet will serve for the first 100 days of the new administration, but President Maithripala Sirisena warned his new ministers not to get too comfortable in power since they would be facing a Parliamentary election in just three months. President Sirisena’s Government includes 27 Cabinet Ministers, nine Ministers of State and eight Deputy Ministers. Among key appointments made yesterday were Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was granted the portfolios of Reconciliation, Policy Development and Economic Affairs, with Dr. Harsha De Silva as his Deputy Minister. UNP Leadership Council Chairman Karu Jayasuriya has been appointed Minister of Public Administration, Democratic Governance and Buddha Sasana.         Ravi Karunanayake has been appointed Minister of Finance. Mangala Samaraweera will serve as Minister of External Affairs. Rauff Hakeem was appointed Minister of Urban Development and Water Supply, while the Industry and Commerce Ministry was restored to Rishad Bathiudeen who gave up the position when he crossed over to support Sirisena’s candidacy before the poll. “We promised that our interim Government would only consist of 30 Cabinet ministries. Our list today is even shorter. We have delivered on that commitment,” Sirisena told his Ministers at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo.     The Cabinet and Ministers appointed yesterday were part of an interim program of work. “These appointments are only temporary, it is when the new Government is formed after the Parliamentary election following our 100 day program that a permanent Cabinet will be appointed,” President Sirisena pointed out.  The Cabinet that is appointed following that election will consist of only 25 ministers, President Sirisena said. Imparting some words of wisdom to his Ministers at their swearing-in, the new President urged them not to get too used to power. “I speak now as a Buddhist. Be ready to give up power and positions at any time. Don’t let your sole purpose be about keeping your grip on power,” President Sirisena advised. He told his Ministers that it was when he decided to let go of all his ministries and position within the SLFP and went before the people that they had entrusted him with even greater responsibility. “If people believe themselves to be immortal, that is when all kinds of problems start to crop up, in your personal life and in society,” he warned. President Sirisena said politicians needed to find a way to win back the people’s trust. “The politician today has destroyed his own image. The people are repulsed by politicians. Narrow personal agendas prevent you from governing your own conduct,” the new President warned. “Try to be an example in society. Try to win the confidence of the people. Be popular and worthy of admiration. No one can do this for you. You create it yourself,” President Sirisena explained. He said the Ministers in the new Government should always recall how politicians have misbehaved in the recent past and how much the people critiqued their conduct. He and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and other leaders in the unity Government would decide on how to deal with ministry subjects not allocated yesterday at a later date, President Sirisena said. Analysts said the new President may have been saving the three remaining Cabinet portfolios for any potential crossovers of senior MPs he would need to accommodate as he tries to consolidate power in Parliament. Taking a stern line on post-election violence, President Sirisena warned that the law would be enforced in the strongest possible terms, irrespective of profile or rank on any persons that was engaging in violence after the election. He urged Ministers to try to win over political opponents and maintain friendships with them for the future. The President acknowledged that all Ministers would not necessarily be happy with the subjects allocated to them. “We are only mortals. We may not feel satisfied with what we have got. All my political life, I have seen this and I understand it. But remember this is only temporary,” he said, urging his Ministers to work hard ahead of certain elections in the near future.  

 Sajin, Karuna defections cause ripples in common alliance

A spate of defections from the UPFA to President Maithripala Sirisena's Government caused a furore in the ranks of the common alliance yesterday, with several high profile members threatening to walk out if former regime acolytes were granted positions in the new administration. News that UPFA MP and former Monitoring MP of the Ministry of External Affairs Sajin Vaas Gunewardane and Haputale District MP and Namal Rajapaksa loyalist Udith Lokubandara had pledged support to President Sirisena at his residence yesterday upset several coalition members. UNP Uva Provincial Council Opposition Leader and popular politician, Harin Fernando threatened to quit the Government if such persons were granted positions in the new administration. Amid reports that SLFP Vice President Karuna Amman had also been spotted at President Sirisena's Wijerama residence on Sunday evening, Gen. Sarath Fonseka also insisted that both KP and Karuna had to be tried for their crimes. Meanwhile UNP MP Ranjan Ramanayake told the BBC that both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe were too civilised. "Just because it is not about political vengeance you can't allow crooks to leave the country," Ramanayake said.