Sri Lanka’s president expanded his cabinet to 67 members by adding five new ministers while key figures involved in the recent impeachment of the country’s chief justice were handed promotions.
A government statement did not say why President Mahinda Rajapakse carried out the expansion, but two ministers involved in impeaching Shirani Bandaranayake received high-profile portfolios. Technology Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi, the first to make allegations against Bandaranayake, was given the electricity ministry while Environment Minister Anura Yapa who headed the impeachment process was elevated to the petroleum ministry.
Rajapakse retained for himself the portfolios of defence, finance, ports and aviation and highways. The president’s younger brother Basil kept his economic development portfolio.The president inducted a new minister for investment promotion, which was previously handled by the president’s brother Basil.The government managed to attract only half of its targeted $2 billion in foreign investments last year, according to official figures.
The cabinet expansion came two weeks after Rajapakse sacked Bandaranayake, ignoring two court decisions that the impeachment was illegal and unconstitutional and international concern for judicial independence.Rajapakse, 67, has consolidated his hold on power after crushing Tamil Tiger rebels in a major military offensive that ended in May 2009. His United People’s Freedom Alliance enjoys more than two thirds in the national parliament. – KahleejNews