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Rajapaksa downsizes ministry

[Express Buzz, Saturday, 24 April 2010 08:29 No Comment]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has kept his promise to cut down the size of his Council of Ministers by swearing in just 37 Cabinet ministers and 39 deputy ministers here on Friday.

Including himself, the Cabinet now has only 38 members.

Prior to the April 8 parliamentary elections, Rajapaksa’s government had 51 Cabinet ministers, 39 non-Cabinet ministers and 19 deputy ministers, making the Sri Lankan Council of Ministers one of the largest in the world. He explained this phenomenon by saying that he needed to placate various interests in Parliament to prevent a critical defeat on the floor of the House.

THONDAMAN NOT IN: Political observers were aghast when they found that Arumugan Thondaman, the Indian Origin Tamil leader from the plantation sector, was not among the ministers, while Muthu Sivalingam, a member of Thondaman’s Ceylon Workers’ Congress, had become a deputy minister in charge of Economic Development. But a source in the Presidential Secretariat told Express that Thondaman and three others from Kandy district would be included later, after the President had completed investigations into the election violence in Nawalap- itya in Kandy district. Among those in kept in waiting are Keheliya Rambukwella and Sarath Amunugama.

The source said the President had kept with himself some important Cabinet portfolios perhaps with the intention of giving them to others later. These include Ports and Aviation, Highways. Significantly, there is no cabinet minister for Media and Information. Currently, the media is overseen by Rajapaksa himself. Also, in contrast to the previous government, there is no minister for Human Rights.

As usual, the President has kept for himself, Defence and Finance. Prime Minister D M Jayaratne has been given the relatively unimportant Buddha Sasana and Relgious Affairs.

But President’s brother and chief aide Basil Rajapaksa has got Economic Development.

[Full Coverage]

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