Two Sri Lanka former ministers join opposition ranks

June 19, 2007 (LBO) – Two former Sri Lankan government ministers crossed to the opposition benches of the parliament Tuesday, deepening divisions in the ruling coalition. Mangala Samaraweera and Sripathi Sooriyarachchi, who were sacked from their portfolios after differences with President Mahinda Rajapakse, took their seats on the opposition benches on Friday morning.

Samaraweera explained that they joined the opposition as they were unable to accept the government’s present policies.

Their move to switch sides caused an uproar in the House prompting the Speaker to suspend sittings for 10 minutes.

The two were sacked after they began criticising President Rajapakse and his brothers who they accused of dominating the government.

Talks between the two sides with the help of intermediaries to resolve differences and get them to rejoin the cabinet failed in recent weeks.

Samaraweera and Sooriyarachchi have alleged that President Rajapakse bribed Tamil Tigers to force minority Tamils in the north-east to boycott the last presidential poll, paving the way for his victory.

They have also alleged there is serious corruption in the government.