6 Sri Lankan ministers quit Sirisena-led unity govt
Colombo, April 12
Six ministers of President Maithripala Sirisena-led unity government in Sri Lanka resigned on Thursday, days after they voted against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in the no trust motion moved by the Joint Opposition.
The ministers, who were from the Sirisena-led ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which is a coalition partner in the unity government with the Wickremesinghe-led United National Party (UNP), sent their resignation to the President late last night.
“We have informed the President that we are leaving the government as of midnight yesterday,” Disaster Management Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa said.
The other ministers who have resigned include Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara, Minister of Social Empowerment and Welfare S B Dissanayake, Labour Minister John Seneviratne, Minister of Science, Technology and Research Susil Premajayantha and Minister of Skills Development and Vocational Training Chandima Weerakkody.
Yapa and the five ministers had voted against Wickremesinghe in the last week’s no trust motion brought by former President Mahinda Rajapaska-led Joint Opposition (JO), following which the UNP members had been demanding their ouster from the government.
Ten other state and deputy ministers had also voted against the premier.
Yapa said they were aware that it was not ethical for them to remain in the Cabinet after voting against the PM. “We will now act as SLFP members, we will not be joining the JO. Our duty will be to promote the SLFP from now on”, he added.
The other SLFP ministers, who had remained absent from the House during the no-confidence motion, will remain in the government, sources said.
The country had plunged into a political crisis after the victory of Rajapaksa’s newly formed party in elections to 10 local councils in February.
It won two thirds of the 340 council seats, trouncing the parties headed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe.
Sirisena immediately urged the resignation of Wickremesinghe but he stood ground. The premier also was faced with resignation calls by at least two of his own party ministers.
With strong backing from the Tamil and Muslim minority parties, including some allies of Sirisena, Wickremesinghe romped home dealing political blows on both Sirisena and Rajapaksa.
The resignation of minister has now triggered a Cabinet reshuffle, officials said.