Discussion between president and PM on removal of justice Minister

Updated: 04:17 GMT, Aug 14, 2017 | Published: 04:18 GMT, Aug 13, 2017 |

President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe have discussed the removal of Justice Minister Wijedasa Rajapakshe from the Cabinet.

The discussion has taken place in the wake of heavy pressure exerted by the UNP Parliamentary group on the party leadership, demanding the removal of the Justice Minister, sources close to the Prime Minister said.

The slow progress made by law enforcement bodies when it comes to anti-corruption investigations against the former first family and the Justice Minister’s controversial statement about the Hambanthota Port agreement are the main reasons for the UNP Parliamentary group’s demand.

They have also collected signatures for a no-confidence motion against Rajapakshe.

A senior Parliamentarian of the UNP told that Rajapakshe aspires to be the common Presidential candidate of the Joint Opposition in 2020. “That is exactly why he wants to act in a manner that embarrasses the government,” the MP, who wished to remain anonymous, said, adding that the no-confidence motion would be presented to the Speaker, if the President and the PM failed to remove Rajapakshe from the latter’s Cabinet position.

“Both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gotabaya Rajapaksa cannot contest the next Parliamentary election due to constitutional barriers. So Wijedasa thinks he stands a chance. This man, who claims himself to be a President’s Counsel has swallowed a rope (lanuwak gilala)” the Parliamentarian explained.

Rajapakshe, however, was not available for comment.