UNP stalwarts Mahinda Samarasinghe and Keheliya Rambukwella joined the UPFA government and were sworn in before President Mahinda Rajapakse as Cabinet Ministers yesterday (25) at the Presidential Secretariat.
Mahinda Samarasinghe, a former senior UNP minister and the present Chief Opposition Whip was sworn in as the Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights while Rambukwella, a Kandy District UNP frontline parliamentarian, was sworn in as Minister for Policy Planning and Implementation.
Well informed sources, close to the President, said there will be a number other UNPers joining the government and that the President had said he will be able to have a two thirds majority in Parliament within a very short time.
Amidst speculation in the political circles of a number of other UNP parliamentarians crossing over to the government, Keheliya Rambukwella said he decided to join the government as he wished to cooperate with President Mahinda Rajapakse in his efforts at resolving the national problem which the previous leaders like Presidents Premadasa and Kumaratunga as well as UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe had also attempted to solve.
Answering a query from the press he said he joined the government as he felt it was necessary for all political parties to work for a common national agenda and it was normal for politicians to be dissatisfied with the policies of their own parties in certain instances but he wished to remain a member of the UNP.
There was also much speculation, among political circles yesterday, about who the other UNP parliamentarians who are likely to cross over to the government and usually reliable parliamentary sources said former UNP Ministers Prof G. L. Peiris, Susantha Punchinilame and Dharmadasa Banda would also join the government in the next few days.
Sources also said the appeal made by President to all parties to cooperate in finding a solution to the national problem and his having consultations with all political parties before taking steps to hold peace talks, was in contrast to the policy of UNP and Opposition Leader, who signed a ceasefire agreement, thus, most other UNP members wishing to join the government appreciated the policy of transparency adopted by the President.