COLOMBO, SRI LANKA (AP) — Sri Lanka’s President swore into office a new Cabinet yesterday that includes two of his elder brothers and a nephew, after a landslide election victory last week.
The 26 Cabinet members include Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who also holds the Finance, Urban Development and Buddhist Affairs ministries. Eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa is Irrigation Minister, and Namal Rajapaksa is the Youth and Sports Minister in his maiden Cabinet portfolio.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa also appointed his lawyer as Justice Minister. Ali Sabry appeared for Gotabaya when he faced court cases related to corruption as a top defence bureaucrat under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency.
A landslide election victory last week gave the Rajapaksas’ political party nearly the two-third majority of seats required to make constitutional changes that could strengthen dynastic rule in the country. However, analysts said any changes that unsettle the balance of power between the Rajapaksas’ respective offices could trigger sibling rivalry.
Five members of the Rajapaksa family are lawmakers— Mahinda Rajapaksa, his son Namal, the eldest brother Chamal and his son Sashindra, and a nephew, Nipuna Ranawaka. Mahinda Rajapaksa has been promoting Namal as his heir.