Sri Lanka president mulls cabinet reshuffle; discounts election

Jan 9, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Tuesday said a cabinet reshuffle was being considered but discounted local media reports that he would call a snap parliamentary election.

President Mahinda Rajapakse said he saw no reason for a general election “at this stage,” according to a statement released by his office.

“There were no problems with the functioning of parliament, and an election would only be needed if the balance of forces in Parliament changes,” the statement said.

But he said a cabinet reshuffle was under consideration for an “appropriate time.”

Rajapakse came to power in November 2005 and inherited a parliament elected separately in 2004 where his own party is in the minority and depends on radical Marxists and Buddhist monks for survival.

Political analysts have speculated that the president may be tempted to go for a snap poll, four years ahead of schedule, in a bid to improve his hold on the legislature.

The Marxists who initially supported him have withdrawn their backing following serious disagreements over the handling of the peace process with Tamil Tiger rebels.

The Marxists and a party of Buddhist monks oppose any concession