Another Cabinet reshuffle is scheduled for today reportedly after intense discussion between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. This is going to be the third change in the Cabinet this year and there is no assurance that it would be the last for the year, as there are reports that the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) have been wrangling over the UNP’s attempt to absorb Ravi Karunanayake into the Cabinet.
According to the lead story of Daily Mirror yesterday, UNP leaders want Karunanayake, who resigned as Foreign Affairs Minister on August 10 last year after the exposure of his links with Central Bank bond scam suspect Arjun Aloysius. Mr. Aloysius was implicated in the Central Bank bond scam which was investigated by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry. President Maithripala Sirisena is said to be firm on rejecting these overtures by the UNP.
Meanwhile, the two main political parties, the UNP and the SLFP, which make up the government are also struggling with their internal problems compelling the leaders of the two parties to dedicate most of their time to sort out those issues. The UNP is now fresh from a party reorganization process where a number of top posts except for the post of Party Leader have been changed. However, it is not clear whether there is a change in the decision-making powers of the office bearers.
Nevertheless, it is also not clear whether the changing of office bearers would bring the internal wrangling of the party to an end, as there are signs of several prominent party members such as Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake being disappointed. They want a change in the leadership of the party which seems to be a remote possibility given the composition of the party’s decision-making bodies, such as the Working Committee. Besides, under the UNP’s constitution, the party has to go through a difficult process to bring about any major changes.
The SLFP led by President Maithripala Sirisena also seems to be struggling to survive after the recent resignation by 16 SLFP ministers, deputy and state ministers from their ministerial posts and Thilanga Sumathipala from the post of deputy speaker. They have said they will sit in the Opposition while being the members of the SLFP though their penchant to team up with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa is very clear after the recent local government elections. However, the SLFP group which is still with the President seems to be attempting to pull them back into the government’s fold, by offering ministerial posts. If at least one or two of them are agreeable to it, the government will again be compelled to reshuffle the Cabinet.
The bickering within the government and within the two main parties in the ruling coalition has cost a lot to the country as well as to the people. For the past five months since last December the government, political parties, the media and the people have been preoccupied with this political conundrum without concentrating on development or other meaningful topics.
Even before that, we were obsessed with the startling exposures by the Presidential Commission on the Central Bank bond scam. Then the local government elections were announced towards the end of the last year. The election results brought about a crisis situation in almost all local government bodies. It seems it would last till the end of the tenure of these councils as well as after the next elections, unless the recently amended law is re-amended in the near future. Hard on the heels of the elections, the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe saw a string of crises within the government, between the two ruling parties, and within those two parties.
The country does not need governments or political parties to continue with their internal squabbling and it is high time for the leaders of the concerned parties to end the tug-o-war and get down to the serious business of running the country. Certainly the leaders would have to make sacrifices so that Sri Lanka and its people would be the ultimate winners.