Theweekendleader

Lanka President appoints interim cabinet, fixes early election

BY SUSITHA FERNANDO   |  Colombo

22-November-2019

Sri Lanka President appointed an interim cabinet with 15 ministers and vowed to hold Parliament election at an earliest date that the constitution would allow.

Fifteen ministers, including his elder brother and Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, were sworn in before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on November 22 morning. Though the caretaker government could continue till August 2020, it is to be dissolved early March and go for a parliamentary election in April.

"We will go for an earliest possible election that the constitution allows to get a mandate for a stronger government," President Rajapaksa told after appointing the cabinet.

Gotabaya urged the new ministers not to make appointments on political gains, but purely based on qualification and suitability.

He said to consider qualification and suitability when appointing the senior posts, including chairmen and director boards for the institutions under ministries and lower ranking posts be filled with those from the poverty-stricken families.

Rajapaksa stressed that qualified experts should be appointed to develop loss making government institutions, which have become an economic burden to the government, to profitable ventures. The president said that the appointment would be screened through by a selection board.

Former Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Wednesday resigned after the election defeat of his party's candidate Sajith Rajapaksa, and made way for Rajapaksa to form a caretaker government until the next election.

Meanwhile, President Rajapaksa promised a fresh probe on the Easter Sunday attack on April 21 carried out by eight local suicide bombers from a local Islamic extremist group. The coordinated attacks killed more than 250 locals and foreign tourists at three hotels and churches and injured over 400.

Rajapaksa, who has assured the Catholic Church head, Colombo Archbishop, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith justice to victims, mostly Christians and said he would appoint a new independent committee to investigate the attacks.

The cardinal has urged the president to call for justice for victims and the need to bring those responsible for the massacre to justice. The president also reassured to strengthen security and prevent such attacks in future.

Former government carried out a parliamentary probe which found the Intelligence Chief among others as responsible for the attacks and another Presidential Commission was appointed by former President Maithripala Sirisena.IANS