Lanka’s new Cabinet to be sworn in on May 1: Prez Sirisena

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Colombo, April 29: The new Cabinet of Sri Lanka’s unity government will be sworn in on Tuesday, President Maithripala Sirisena announced today, weeks after he had suspended Parliament in the backdrop of the ongoing political turmoil in the country.
The unity government of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) was thrown into a crisis after former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s new party pulled off a stunning victory in February’s local elections seen as a referendum on the ruling alliance.
Early this month, Sirisena was forced to face a vote of no confidence in Parliament moved by the Joint Opposition which has the backing of Rajapaksa.
Wickremesinghe won the vote convincingly even after some of the unity government’s Sirisena loyalists voted for his ouster among them were six ministers of the Cabinet.
Wickremesinghe’s party urged that those who voted against him need sacking from the government. Acting ministers were appointed to cover for six of them after they resigned.
Sirisena, on April 12, made the decision to prorogue Parliament by virtue of the powers vested in him by Article 70 of the Constitution.
A group of 16 Sirisena loyalists is to sit in Parliament as a separate opposition group.
Buoyed by the positive outcome of the local polls, the Rajapaksa camp now pushes for a snap parliamentary election ahead of the scheduled August 2020. However the next election due is the presidential election which must be called by November 2019.
The country had plunged into a political crisis after the unity government’s parties lost the local council elections to Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka People’s Front.
Sirisena immediately urged the resignation of Wickremesinghe but he resisted.
Sirisena in 2015 quit the then Rajapaksa government to join hands with Wickremesinghe, the then main opposition leader, to defeat Rajapaksa in the presidential election ending his nearly 10-year rule. (PTI)