Marxists, monks out of new Sri Lanka cabinet

Sri Lanka’s new president on Wednesday set up a 25-member cabinet which excluded hard-line allies from the Marxist and Buddhist monks’ parties in a move analysts said could trigger a snap poll. Sri Lanka’s new president on Wednesday set up a 25-member cabinet which excluded hard-line allies from the Marxist and Buddhist monks’ parties in a move analysts said could trigger a snap poll. President Mahinda Rajapakse retained the defence portfolio as required by the constitution and also kept the finance ministry, as most of his predecessors have done.

No posts were given to the Marxist JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, or to the all-monks JHU, or National Heritage Party. The two nationalist parties were key allies of Rajapakse in last Thursday’s election which he narrowly won.

The JVP quit the previous government in June after falling out with then-president Chandrika Kumaratunga over proposals to share tsunami aid with Tamil Tiger rebels. It supported Rajapakse’s candidature.

Political sources said squabbling for top jobs in cabinet delayed the swearing in of the new government, originally scheduled for Monday to coincide with the induction of Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanaya