The President has decided to appoint Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to the post of Prime Minister since Premier D.M. Jayaratne is unable to carry out his duties.
Prime Minister Jayaratne has now returned to the country after receiving treatment at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, but several specialist doctors have said the Premier was not of sound memory.
Several attempts by the President to hold a Cabinet reshuffle in the past few months had to be postponed due to the clash over the appointment of the next prime Minister.
However, the President has decided to hold a Cabinet reshuffle after the conclusion of three provincial council elections this year Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is to be appointed to the post.
The President has had a lengthy discussion on the matter with a few of his close friends after returning to the country from his tour in the UK and Italy. A head of a state bank, several lawyers and one of the President’s brothers in-law have participated in the discussion.
The President has said he did not have confidence in Ministers Maithripala Sirisena and Nimal Siripala de Silva to be appointed as Prime Minster although they were senior members of the SLFP and that First Lady Shiranthi and the sons did not approve of either Basil or Chamal Rajapaksa being appointed to the post.
The President has said that although he had thought of appointing Minster Dinesh Gunawardena as the next Premier, the Defence Secretary had shown files about Gunawardena’s corrupt dealings.
All those who had participated in the discussion have asked the President to be mindful of son Namal Rajapaksa’s political future when choosing the next Prime Minister.
The President had agreed and said that his wife and children were agreeable to appointing Gotabhaya as Prime Minister.
It was then decided to appoint Gotabhaya to parliament from the National List after asking National List MP Janaka Bandara to resign. Gotabhaya would then be appointed as the Minister of Urban Development, Buddhist and Cultural Affairs and Deputy Minister of Defence.
The President has also said that he has decided to get National List MPs Malini Fonseka, Kamala Ranatunge, J.R.P. Suriyapperuma and Prof. Rajeeva Wijesinghe to resign in order to appoint several intellectuals to parliament. He has added that one of the new appointees would be appointed as the External Affairs Minister.