Sri Lankan president sacks minister over dengue row

August 10, 2010 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s president Tuesday sacked a maverick minister who had tied a state official to a tree as punishment for failing to control the spread of dengue fever in the country, an official said. Highways minister Mervyn Silva was dismissed and his ruling party membership suspended pending a disciplinary inquiry, an official at the president’s office said.

“The president removed minister Silva from his post with immediate effect,” the official said without elaborating.

Silva raised a storm of public protest after he used a rope to tie the local official to a tree as medieval punishment for allowing the spread of dengue which has claimed 171 lives in Sri Lanka this year.

Sri Lankan authorities have recently deployed troops and police in a major operation to clean up mosquito breeding areas. Dengue claimed 2,300 lives in Sri Lanka in 2009.