Minister quits as Marxists, monks kept 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, immediately sparking a resignation by a dissident minister. Sri Lanka’s new president on Wednesday set up a 25-member cabinet which excluded hard-line allies from the Marxist and Buddhist monks, immediately sparking a resignation by a dissident minister. 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.

Sripathy Sooriyarachchi, made minister of employment, quit soon after being sworn in, saying the non-cabinet rank job he was given was beneath his qualifications and he was also protesting the exclusion of Marxists from the cabinet.

No posts were given to the Marxist JVP (People’s Liberation Front), or to the all-monks JHU — the 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 supporte