President gives in, UNP readies cabinet
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 11 December 2001, 16:20 GMT]
Sri Lanka’s new cabinet will be sworn in Wednesday, United National Party sources said. The cabinet will have 20-22 ministers. The President agreed Tuesday to let the UNP have the Defence and Finance portfolios in the new government. “Considerable pressure and sober counsel were necessary to make the President come to terms with the reality. However, she may keep the controversial Presidential Security Division (PSD) directly under her control”, said a UNP spokesman. Meanwhile, the commanders of the armed forces met the new Prime Minister this morning at his office in Colombo.
The Parliament will convene on 18 December and not as announced on Monday as Ramadan is expected to be observed on 17 December. The UNP and its main coalition partner, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, told the President to change the date in deference to the religious sensitivities of the Muslim people in Sri Lanka.
UNP sources said that negotiations are underway with several senior politicians of the defeated People’s Alliance now. Some of them are expected to join the cabinet, they added.