COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena on Thursday named a 30-member Cabinet, but retained the control over the island nation's security forces and the police by ignoring Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's nominees, indicating that two leaders are still at loggerheads after weeks of political crisis.
The Cabinet announcement came after the reinstatement of Wickremesinghe as prime minister. Sirisena ignored Wickremesinghe's nominees for Cabinet positions from those who had defected from his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). At least 3 seniors had defected from the SLFP to Wickremesinghe's United National Party (UNP).
Sirisena's decision on October 26 to sack prime minister Wickremesinghe and install former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place triggered an unprecedented constitutional crisis. Later, Sirisena also dissolved the 225-member Parliament and called for a snap election on January 5.
However, Wickremesinghe was re-appointed as prime minister by Sirisena following a Supreme Court order, ending the 51-day political standoff in the country.
The president now holds the Defence and Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry portfolios.
He retained the control over the police which is investigating an alleged plot to kill him that triggered a political crisis in the country.
Wickremesinghe also hold portfolios of National Policies, Economic Affairs, Resettlement & Rehabilitation, Northern Province Development, Vocational Training & Skills Development & Youth Affairs.
Thilak Janaka Marapana was sworn-in as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Sirisena's holding of the Law and Order Ministry has been disputed by the UNP, claiming that the president was only constitutionally allowed to be the defence minister in addition to the subject of environment.
Analysts said that Cabinet appointments indicate that Sirisena and Wickremesinghe were still at loggerheads.
Sirisena, who had publicly vowed not to reinstate Wickremesinghe, was was forced to change his stance after court rulings over the issue.