Colombo, August 25 (Adaderena): The Minister of Foreign Employment, Thalatha Athukorala, and Minister of Sustainable Development and Wildlife, Gamini Jayawickrama, on Friday took oaths as Minister of Justice and Minister of Buddha Sasana respectively, in place of the sacked Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe .
The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Secretary to the President Austin Fernando were also present on this occasion.
President Maithripala Sirisena approved the removal of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe from his ministerial portfolios as per the request made by the United National Party (UNP) on Wednesday.
The UNP Working Committee the previous day (22) made the collective decision that the Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasan,a Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe should be removed from all his ministerial portfolios in light of his criticism of government policies, and subsequently wrote a letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, requesting him to do so.
Certain parliamentarians and ministers of the government, mostly those representing the UNP, had called for Rajapakse’s resignation and threatened to bring a no-confidence motion if he failed to do so after the latter had openly criticized the Hambantota port agreement while also accusing him of stalling the initiation of legal proceedings against politicians of the former government.
On August 17, the UNP parliamentary group approved a proposal to bring a no-confidence motion against the former Minister stating that he had failed to act in accordance with his ministerial portfolio.
The former Minister of Justice was reportedly given a grace period till August 21 to dismiss the accusation; however he had failed to respond to the request made by the UNP Working Committee before the deadline.
Hence, the party leadership decided to write to the President requesting his removal from the ministerial portfolios held by him.
Wijeyadasa Rajapakse accordingly left the Ministry of Buddha Sansana premises for the final time on Wednesday (23) after he was removed from his ministerial portfolios of Justice and Buddha Sasana.
(The imagea at the top are those of Thalatha Athulorala and Gamini Jayawickrama Perera)