In a cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, President Maithripala Sirisena has appointed his Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the law and order minister. The reshuffle comes after the coalition government suffered a series of setbacks in the local elections earlier this month.
President Maithripala Sirisena, the leader of the SLFP, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the head of UNP had won office by promising to investigate corruption under the previous Mahinda Rajapaksa led government but critics have accused the government that the investigations de-accelerated under Sagala Ratnayaka, the previous law and order minister.
The governing coalition of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) also blamed the defeats partly on their government’s lack of progress in several anti-corruption probes.
However, Sirisena has said more changes could be seen within the SLFP over the next two weeks.
The allegations of corruption are primarily against family members of Mahinda Rajapaksa who is now a legislator on the opposition benches. They face accusations ranging from misappropriation of state properties to unexplainable assets. Two of Rajapaksa’s sons, Namal and Yoshitha, have been arrested and released on bail over money-laundering charges.
One of his brothers, Basil, who was the head of the economic development ministry, has also been arrested at least three times- twice over suspicion of misuse of anti-poverty funds and once over suspicion of laundering money.
He is free on bail and all the Rajapaksas have denied any wrongdoing.
The government has yet to meet the promises it campaigned on, including a new constitution aimed at delegating some powers to provincial governments dominated by ethnic minorities, facilitate an international probe into alleged war crimes in the final phase of Sri Lanka’s war against the Tamils, and fiscal discipline efforts sought by the International Monetary Fund.
The next nationwide elections are not due until 2020.