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Ratnasiri tipped to be PM again; no portfolios for new comers Namal to remain an ordinary MP

Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka will be appointed Prime Minister of the new UPFA government to be formed on April 21, The Island reliably learns. Although there are several contenders for the post, including former Minister D. M. Jayaratne, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to reappoint Wickramanayake PM because he is acceptable to all SLFPers and the appointment of someone else is likely to lead to resentment among aspirants for the second most powerful position in country, according to sources close to the President.

President Rajapaksa would limit his new Cabinet to 35-40 members with an equal number of deputies in spite of pressure mounting on him to accommodate many more and none of the first timers in Parliament would be appointed as either ministers or deputy ministers, sources said. That rule would apply to the President’s eldest son, Namal Rajapaksa as well, they said.

Namal polled the highest number of preferential votes (147,566) in the Hambantota District beating all party seniors in the fray including his paternal uncle Chamal Rajapaksa, who is a former senior minister.

Sources quoted President Rajapaksa as having told his confidantes yesterday that the number of preferential votes or family ties would not be the basis on which ministerial appointments were made.

Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva would not get the Health portfolio in the new Cabinet. .

Instead, he would get some other ministry, sources said. The education sector would also get a new minister and former Minister of Education Susil Premjayantha would be given a different ministry, they said.

Ridding the education institutions of anarchical political elements responsible for disrupting the university system would receive priority in the education sector under the new government, sources said.

The President and senior UPFA leaders are still having discussions on ministerial appointments and some of the former ministers are likely to be appointed deputy ministers, according to sources. No final decision has been made as to who will be the Foreign Minister of the new government. All ministerial appointments would be finalized after the traditional New Year, sources said.

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