SRI LANKA’S water supply minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara on Monday (7) said he will boycott cabinet meetings to protest against the sacking of his two colleagues by president Gotabaya Rajapaksa during a snap cabinet reshuffle last week.
In a statement last Thursday (3), the president’s press office announced a snap cabinet reshuffle in the midst of a deepening economic crisis and fuel shortages.
“Previous power minister Gamini Lokuge has been appointed as the energy minister while transport minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi was made the new power minister,” a statement from the president’s media division said.
Rajapaksa also appointed parliamentarian SB Dissanayake as the new industries minister, his office said.
Rajapaksa sacked Udaya Gammanpila from the energy minister portfolio and industries minister Wimal Weerawansa after the latter criticised finance minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is also the president’s younger brother.
Both sacked ministers accused the finance minister of having “a rigid working style” that allegedly caused the island nation’s ongoing economic woes.
Sri Lanka is currently experiencing a foreign exchange crisis with falling reserves and the government is unable to foot the bill for essential imports.
The ousted ministers were members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).
Nanayakkara said, “My party’s central committee has decided that I stay away from attending cabinet meetings but continue to function as a minister.”
Gammanpila and Weerawansa both criticised the younger Rajapaksa for holding dual US citizenship.
The Rajapaksa family holds a tight grip on the island nation’s politics.
Following the 2019 Sri Lankan elections, they hold several key portfolios.
President Rajapaksa’s older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa, the former president, is the prime minister.
Mahinda’s son Namal is the minister of youth and sports.
Chamal Rajapaksha, the older brother of both president and prime minister, is also a senior minister.
Basil, the youngest of the three, holds the finance ministry portfolio.
Chamal’s son Shasheendra is also a state minister.
Lokuge, who replaced Gammanpila as the energy minister, said it was wrong for the sacked ministers to be critical while being members of the Cabinet.