Sri Lanka government appoints 51 member cabinet, claims absolute majority

January, 28 (LBO) – The defection of 18 opposition members has strengthened the administration of President Mahinda Rajapakse, a senior minister said, while the opposition symbolically tore up a co-operation agreement with the government in front of journalists. œThe most experienced and ablest member of the opposition has joined the government, Information Minister Anura Yapa said.

œWe can now solve the economic problems, and find a peaceful solution to the national question.

Sri Lanka now has a record 51 member cabinet (up from 26), 33 non-cabinet ministers and 19 deputy ministers.

Meanwhile the opposition United National Party tore a co-operation agreement with the government at a news conference.

UNP Deputy Leader Tissa Attanayake said the co-operation agreement was ended with the defections, but Yapa said the agreement did not mention defections.

The deal had allowed the government to muster enough support to pass the budget in parliament late last year.

Yapa said the government now had the support of 159 members of the 225 member legislature.

But the Marxist nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna with 38 members had already declared that they are not supporting the government.

The government has 121 mem