Sacked ‘rock star’ seeks return to Sri Lanka government

The sacked junior minister of Tourism and Christian Affairs Arundika Fernando met with President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday seeking  reinstatement, but was told no way and that there may be more sackings.

Fernando’s Puttalam district Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was immediately taken over by another SLFP deputy minister Nimal Lanza who had earlier been in a list of possible defectors to the Joint Opposition.

“President had a meeting with SLFP ministers and deputies on Tuesday night and mapped out a plan to restructure the party organisation,” SLFP spokesman Dayasiri Jayasekera said.

He said several ministers who had been identified as those hoping to quit the government had made it clear on Tuesday night they were committed to backing President Sirisena.

However, party sources said that the position of two SLFP ministers was precarious.

“There are two seniors from the Rajapaksa-faction who want to join the government, but the problem is how to accommodate them,” the party source said adding that a constitutional provision prevented enlarging the cabinet.

Fernando was sacked on Tuesday after he reportedly demanded millions of rupees to continue supporting the president.

An SLFP source said the President was aware that Fernando had cut a lucrative financial deal with a Rajapaksa loyalist to join that side and at the same time was negotiating with the president.

Government spokesman Rajith Senaratne told reporters at the post-cabinet press conference in Colombo that the President made it clear to Fernando that he will not pay any ransom money to keep anyone in the government.

“I don’t have the kind of money you are asking, but even if I had, I won’t give you,” Senaratne quoted the President as saying.

Fernando was not immediately available for comment. He was accused by other SLFP ministers of trying to rock the boat, hence he was dubbed a “rock star”. (COLOMBO, Sept 13, 2017)

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