Cabinet may delayed as discussion drag

The swearing-in of Cabinet Ministers is likely to be delayed since discussions were still underway on the assignment of portfolios to MPs joining the Government from the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), sources said last afternoon.

Initially, the United National Party (UNP) wanted to entertain only 10 MPs from the UPFA. However, party sources told the Daily Mirror yesterday that 21 UPFA MPs were ready to team up with the new Government.

As a result, they said the Government had been unable so far to decide on the Ministries to be assigned to them.

“The UNP will also sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) to form a national government enabling it to increase the Cabinet to more than 30 members,” the source said.

“Otherwise, the Cabinet has to be restricted to 30 in keeping with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution,” the source said.

The national government means the one formed by the party with the highest number of seats in Parliament in alliance with another party.

President Maithripala Sirisena said that the UPFA would not join hands with the UNP though he would not oppose any of his MPs joining the new government individually.

Accordingly, the UNP has decided to tie up with the SLMC.

There is one MP- Ali Zahir Moulana- elected to Parliament on the SLMC. The five other SLMC members were elected on the UNP ticket.

Besides, Parliament has to pass a resolution with a simple majority to exceed the Cabinet more than 30.

New Cabinet should be confined to 30 members – UNP

Most of the UNPers had insisted that the new Cabinet should be confined to 30 Ministers, UNP MP Eran Wickrmaratne said yesterday.

Mr Wickramaratne told journalists that many UNPers had insisted that new Cabinet should be confined only to 30 members to be in line with the wish of the people, that corruption and wastage of the Government should be stopped.

Referring to a document that is being circulated in social media claiming it to be a list of Cabinet Members, Mr Wickramaratne said many had prepared lists claiming them to be the new Cabinet.

“A new Cabinet would be appointed within the next 48 hours,” he said yesterday.

Asked whether any SLFPers would be accommodated in the Cabinet, he said discussions were under way with some SLFPers but UNP had insisted that those who participated in the Constitutional coup should not be given Ministerial portfolios.

He said that talks were underway to bring in a Vote on Account (VoA) in a few days’ time so that economic stability would be restored.

Referring to a question as to how President Maithripala Sirisena appointed UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister after stating that he would not appoint Mr Wickremesinghe even if all 225 members of Parliament told him to do so, the UNP MP said President Sirisena had later decided to abide with the country’s Constitution.

Mr Wickramaratne, who responded to a question as to whether it had been computed that country had lost Rs. 22 billion as a result of the political uncertainty, he said that losses were incurred as a result of the interest rate hike.

Six PCs not to support new Govt.: Isura

Chief Ministers of six provincial Councils had decided not to support the new government headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Western Province Chief Minister Isura Devapriya said yesterday.

He told a news conference that the decision was taken at a meeting held in his residence in Colombo attended by Chief Ministers of Western, North Central, Central, Southern, North Western and Uva Provincial Councils.

22-year-old fruit vendor stabbed to death

A 22-year-old fruit vendor was killed after he was stabbed with a broken glass bottle by a fellow vendor in Pettah early hours today, police said.

They said the suspect had stabbed the 22-year-old Kumara Dickson when he had asked to repay the money the suspect owed to the victim.

The Pettah Police are investigating to arrest the missing suspect who is a resident of Kotahena.

School third term ends on Friday

The third term of all government and government-assisted private schools would end on Friday (30), the Education Ministry today said.

It said the schools would re-open on January 2nd for the first term of 2019.