Just hours after Sri Lanka’s entire cabinet resigned, apart from prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, a new cabinet of four ministers has been sworn in this morning, with some familiar faces making a return.
Several sources are reporting Ali Sabry has been appointed finance minister, Dinesh Gunawardena the education minister, Johnston Fernando as minister of highways and G L Peiris remaining the foreign affairs minister.
All four are from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). It remains unclear whether these are temporary appointments or not, with the situation still developing.
Read more on each of the four new ministers below.
Sabry previously served as Sri Lanka’s justice minister.
A long-time Rajapaksa ally and a member of the legal team of Gotabaya’s presidential counsel, Sabry helped campaign for the accused war criminal in 2019.
In a video that was circulated during the presidential elections is seen speaking to a Muslim crowd and asking the audience; “If we don’t support him, what will happen?”
To which a member of the crowd responds “ambanaikku kidaikkum” which roughly translates to “a lot will happen” or “we will be beaten a lot”.
Gunawardena previously served as Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, where he has ferociously defended the government against charges of war crimes at the UN Human Rights Council.
Speaking at the global body in Geneva, Gunawardena staunchly defended the war crimes accused head of the Sri Lankan army Shavendra Silva and officially withdrew his government’s co-sponsorship of a resolution on accountability for rights abuses.
As a new resolution was passed, Gunawardena decried it as “unwarranted, unjustified”, and “illegal”.
G L Peiris
Veteran Sinhala politician G L Peiris remains Sri Lanka’s foreign affairs minister.
He has also repeatedly defended Sri Lanka’s chequered human rights record at various global bodies, just last week lashing out against British criticism of Sri Lanka and claiming individuals had gained 'mega financial benefits' as the United Nations Human Rights Council passed resolutions on mass atrocities committed on the island.
Fernando initially began his political career with the United National Party (UNP), criticising then defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapkasa and telling him to ‘go back to the USA’ after the LTTE’s devastating 2007 attack on Katunayake air base.
He complained of receiving death threats shortly afterwards.
In 2009 however, Fernando defected to the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government led by then-Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. He was rewarded with a post as Minister for Land Development and Ranaviru Welfare.