COLOMBO: Six ministers quit Sri Lanka’s troubled coalition government, forcing Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to patch up his cabinet Thursday ahead of a wider reshuffle.
Wickremesinghe gave the duties of the six Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) ministers to four other members of his cabinet.
The prime minister’s United National Party had increased pressure on the followers of President Maithripala Sirisena — who voted against Wickremesinghe in a recent no-confidence motion — to resign.
With the help of minority Tamil and Muslim parties, the premier defeated the motion, dealing a blow to Sirisena, who had campaigned for Wickremesinghe to stand down.
Those who voted against Wickremesinghe “have no moral right to remain in government”, Petroleum Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said.
Relations between the rival groups in the unity government soured after both suffered losses in February’s local council elections.
Former strongman Mahinda Rajapaksa’s party trounced the UNP and SLFP to win control of two-thirds of the 340 local councils at stake.
In the run-up to the election, Sirisena branded the prime minister and his party as more corrupt than the Rajapaksa regime, which Sirisena and Wickremesinghe jointly toppled in 2015.AFP