New Sri Lanka Cabinet vows to speed up national reconciliation

Sri Lanka's reinstated Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe, center, surrounded by his supporters speaks after assuming duties in Colombo on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 21 December 2018
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New Sri Lanka Cabinet vows to speed up national reconciliation

  • The Australian High Commission in Colombo welcomed the resolution by constitutional means of the political uncertainty in Sri Lanka
  • Palladino said he was pleased that the leadership in Sri Lanka had resolved the political crisis of the past several weeks in accordance with constitutional norms and the rule of law

COLOMBO: The reinstated government of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe pledged to speed up development and national reconciliation as the new Cabinet was sworn in here on Thursday.
A total of 29 legislators, including the premier, were sworn in as ministers in the presence of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
The US, EU and Australia offered their greetings and their cooperation to the new government headed by Wickremesinghe.
Rishath Bathiudeen, the new minister of industry and commerce and resettlement and cooperative development, said that his government would work with renewed energy and confidence for sustainable economic and political developments in the country.
In his speech following his swearing in, Bathiudeen said: “I am happy to be a part of the of the new Cabinet. We will resume our forward march which was halted on Oct. 26 due to the constitutional crisis which crippled all the government machinery.”
He pointed out that democracy had eventually prevailed and minority interests had also been well protected with the restoration of democracy after more than 50 days.
Harin Fernando, minister of telecommunication, digital infrastructure facilities, foreign employment and sports, said that immediately after the ministers’ swearing in, the Cabinet had passed a proposal for a vote to allow state spending from January; the government will vote on this on Friday. He also said that both deputy ministers and state ministers would be announced in the coming days.
Leader of the National Unity Alliance and well-known political analyst, Azath Salley, told Arab News: “It is the same old Cabinet except for a few new ministers.”
He predicted that the new government would not last longer than four months. He said he was glad that the president had not accommodated opportunists who crossed over to the winning side vying for ministerial posts.
With President Sirisena retaining the portfolio of law and order, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe took the oath as minister of national policies and economic affairs, Ministry of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms, Northern Development, Vocational Training, Skill Development and Youth Affairs.
The four Muslim ministers who were sworn in included Rishath Bathiudeen; Rauf Hakeem, minister of town planning, water supply and higher education; Kabeer Hashim; minister of highways and road development and petroleum resources development, and Abdul Haleem Mohamed Hashim, minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs.
Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka who played a key role in defeating the Tamil Tigers during the regime of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa was not included in the Cabinet.
The legislators who crossed over to the ruling party immediately after Wickremesinghe took over the premiership were not given portfolios.
Ravi Karunanayake, who previously resigned from the Cabinet over corruption allegations, was appointed minister of power and energy and business development
Calling Sri Lanka a valued partner in the Indo-Pacific, US State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said the US looked forward to working with Wickremesinghe to advance cooperation on bilateral and regional issues.
Palladino said he was pleased that the leadership in Sri Lanka had resolved the political crisis of the past several weeks in accordance with constitutional norms and the rule of law.
“Sri Lanka is a valued partner in the Indo-Pacific and we look forward to engaging with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet to advance cooperation on bilateral and regional issues of common interest,” Palladino said.
The US Ambassador in Colombo, Alaina Teplitz, said the US welcomed this weekend’s political developments which upheld Sri Lanka’s democratic and constitutional norms. “Sri Lanka is a valued partner in the Indo-Pacific,” the ambassador said, “and we look forward to continuing to develop our relationship with the government and people of this country.”
A statement issued by the delegation of the European Union stated: “As steady friends of Sri Lanka, we welcome the peaceful and democratic resolution of the political crisis in accordance with the constitution. We commend the resilience of Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions and will continue to support its efforts toward national reconciliation and prosperity for all.”
The Australian High Commission in Colombo welcomed the resolution by constitutional means of the political uncertainty in Sri Lanka.


Former US VP Biden announces 2020 run for White House

Updated 25 April 2019
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Former US VP Biden announces 2020 run for White House

  • Biden joins an already crowded list of presidential candidates running from the Democratic party
  • He served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president

WASHINGTON: Former US Vice President Joe Biden announced Thursday he is entering the 2020 White House race, joining an already crowded list of candidates running on the Democratic Party platform.
In a tweet accompanied by a three-and-a-half minute video, Biden said he couldn’t stand idly by while US President Donald Trump “fundamentally altered the character of this nation.”
“The core values of this nation... our standing in the world... our very democracy... everything that has made America — America — is at stake,” he wrote in the post.
“That’s why today I’m announcing my candidacy for President of the United States.”
Even before his official announcement, Biden, who served eight years as Barack Obama’s vice president, led most surveys of Democratic voters.
The RealClearPolitics poll aggregate puts him as favorite with 29.3 percent support, followed by independent Senator Bernie Sanders at 23 percent.