A 42-member Council of Cabinet Ministers was sworn in by President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo on Friday.
Thirty one of the Cabinet Ministers belong to the United National Party (UNP) and the remaining 11 to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). There are three Ministers from the Tamil community and four Muslims. The Cabinet includes two women, both from the UNP.
The total figure does not include Mangala Samaraweera, who was made Foreign Affairs Minister 10 days ago at a low profile event besides the President, who is the head of the Cabinet under the Constitution of Sri Lanka.
On Thursday, Parliament adopted a motion to increase the number of Cabinet Ministers not exceeding 48 and that of other categories of Ministers, not more than 45.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the first to take oath as Minister-in-charge of National Policy and Economic Affairs followed by his party colleague, John Amaratunga, who has been put in charge of Tourism Development and Christian Affairs.
While D.M. Swaminathan, Palany Digambaram and Mano Ganesan are the Tamil representatives, the UNP general secretary, Kabir Hasheem, Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem, All Ceylon Makkal Congress chief Rishad Bathihudeen and UNP MP from Kandy Abdul Haleem Mohamad Hashim are the Muslim faces of the Cabinet. The portfolios of the seven Ministers are: Mr. Swaminathan — Rehabilitation, Resettlement and Hindu Affairs; Mr. Digambaram — Upcountry, New Villages, Estate Infrastructure & Community Development; Mr. Ganesan — National Dialogue; Mr. Hasheem — Public Enterprise Development; Mr. Hakeem — Urban Development and Water Supply; Mr. Bathihudeen — Industries and Commerce and Mr. Mohamad Hashim — Postal Service & Muslim Affairs. The Tamil Ministers took oath in Tamil and the Muslims in English, while others in Sinhalese.
Among the SLFP heavyweights who have been accommodated in the Cabinet are Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, Nimal Siripala de Silva, S.B. Dissanayake, Mahinda Samarasinghe Mahinda Amaraweera and Duminda Dissanayake.
Rajitha Senaratne, Arjuna Ranatunga and M.K.A.D.S. Gunawardana, who broke away from the SLFP ahead of the general elections and contested on the UNP ticket, have not only become Ministers but also retained the portfolios (Health, Ports and Lands respectively) they had at the time of dissolution of Parliament. Ravi Karunanayake, senior UNP leader representing Colombo, has also retained Finance.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) leader Patali Champika Ranawaka, who was Power and Energy Minister, has been entrusted with the portfolio of Megapolis and Western [Province] Development, as he has been representing Colombo. The subject of Power has been given to Ranjith Siyambalapitiya of the SLFP.
Dayasiri Jayasekara and Harin Fernando, who were Chief Ministers of North Western and Uva Provinces till now, have also been inducted into the Council to look after Sports and Telecommunication.