Sri Lanka president sacks three ministers in surprise move

COLOMBO, Feb 9, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Friday sacked three ministers, including the former foreign minister, amid growing dissension within the newly-elected 54-member cabinet, officials said. With last month’s defections, Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) enjoys a majority and the sacking of the three ministers will not immediately cause any problems for the government’s stability in parliament. President Mahinda Rajapakse dismissed former foreign minster Mangala Samaraweera, who is now Ports Minister, National Heritage Minister Anura Bandaranaike and non-cabinet Ports Minister Sripathi Sooriarachchi.

“The president signed the letters dismissing the three ministers with immediate effect,” a spokesman for the president’s office said, adding that no replacements had yet been named.

The surprise sacking came a day after Bandaranaike, the brother of former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, publicly declared that elements of the government were trying to intimidate him with death threats.

The three men had also opposed Rajapakse’s move to accommodate 18 opposition legislators within government ranks late last month and reward 10 of them with plum cabinet positions.

All t