Daily Archives: August 26, 2015

UNP-SLFP Ministry to be sworn in on Sept. 2


An agreement between the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party has been reached on the issue.

To clear the uncertainty over the formation and composition of the new Council of Ministers, the United National Party (UNP) on Wednesday announced that the swearing in of Ministers would take place on September 2, the day after the new Parliament holds its first sitting and approves the proposal regarding the size of the Cabinet.

Malik Samarawickrama, UNP chairman, told The Hindu, that an agreement had been reached between his party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) on the issue. It had been decided to take the Parliament nod in view of the legal stipulation on the size of the Cabinet.

As per the 19th Constitutional Amendment, the Cabinet’s size should not exceed 30. Since the proposed government would be a national government, it could approach the Parliament for increasing the size of the Cabinet and this has been prescribed in the 19th Amendment [Article 46 (4)].

Asked about reports in sections of the media that the Cabinet would have 45 members, Mr. Samarawickrama replied that “some discussions have taken place between President [Maithripala Sirisena] and Prime Minister [Ranil Wickremesinghe].”

Though the UNP and its allies emerged as the single largest bloc in the August 17 elections, they were short of seven members to have a simple majority in the 225-member Parliament. On Friday, Mr. Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Prime Minister. On Monday, three Ministers were administered oath of office as their presence as representatives of the government was felt crucial during the talks with United States’ Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia, Nisha Biswal and her delegation on Tuesday.



Sri Lanka briefs U.S. on domestic human rights mechanism


On measures taken by the government to address the human rights concerns following the over three-decade-long civil war with the LTTE

Sri Lanka’s new Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera on Tuesday briefed two top visiting U.S. State Department officials about the measures taken by the government to address the human rights concerns following the over three-decade-long civil war with the LTTE.

Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski met Mr. Samaraweera as they became the first foreign officials to visit Colombo after the recent parliamentary elections.

“Now that we have achieved political stability, I outlined measures being taken to address concerns regarding the alleged human rights violations including independent domestic mechanisms,” Mr. Samaraweera said.

Promoting reconciliation
“We discussed steps taken by the government to promote reconciliation and strengthen the rule of law, this is part of the government’s overall objective of ensuring good governance, respect for human rights and strengthening our economy,” he said.

The two-day visit of the U.S. officials assumes significance as the U.N. Human Rights Council is due to release its war crimes report on Sri Lanka in Geneva next week.

Domestic mechanism

The new Sri Lankan government opted for a domestic mechanism to address human rights concerns raised in the resolution when the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration was in power.

“We continued the dialogue that began following the election of President Maithripala Sirisena and my appointment as the Foreign Minister,” said Mr. Samaraweera, who was sworn in on Monday as Foreign Minister.

The Tamil minority and rights groups had raised concerns on a local mechanism, saying that it would not be independent and the findings may be used for a cover-up.

Economic ties

The official visit is aimed to further strengthen the bilateral economic ties and promote reconciliation and justice in Sri Lanka. Ms. Biswal will head to New Delhi on Wednesday.

The U.N rights body’s report was delayed from March as a show of goodwill to the appointment of Sirisena as the new President in January this year.

The report covers investigations on the alleged human rights violations by Mahinda Rajapaksa government and the LTTE during the final phase of the military clashes which ended in 2009.

Closer to U.S.

In contrast to the Rajapaksa administration, the Sirisena government has improved its relations with the US. It was signified in the visit in May by John Kerry who became the first U.S. Secretary of State to make an official visit to Colombo since 1972.


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