No Cabinet till April 21

President to oversee functions of all ministers and secretaries
By our political editor

President Mahinda Rajapaksa will swear in a new Cabinet of Ministers on April 21, a day ahead of the first session of new Parliament.

Thus, for the first time after a parliamentary election, Sri Lanka will not have a Cabinet of Ministers or Secretaries to Ministries for 13 days since the poll. All functions of the Ministers will be exercised by the President, in accordance with the Constitution. Similarly, the functions of the Secretaries will be exercised by the Secretary to the President.

The process of swearing in a Cabinet of Ministers has been delayed by the inability of the Commissioner of Elections to publish a Gazette notification listing the names of the 225 members of Parliament elected at Thursday's elections. The Constitution requires that all Ministers are Members of Parliament.

On Thursday, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake annulled polling in 17 booths in Nawalapitiya and one booth in Kumburupiddy. The total number of votes involved in the former is 55,000 whilst the latter has around 900 votes. As a result, the official results of both Kandy and Trincomalee districts have not yet been announced.

The Sunday Times learns that re-polls will be held in these two areas on April 20. President Mahinda Rajapaksa expects the official results of the elections to be published in a Gazette on the same night to pave the way for the swearing in. W.P. Sumanasiri, Additional Deputy Commissioner of Elections, said yesterday that the commissioner would make an official announcement on the re poll tomorrow.

Kandy's District Secretary Gotabhaya Jayaratna told the Sunday Times yesterday he was making arrangements for a re-poll in 17 booths in the Nawalapitiya electorate. Trincomalee District Secretary, T.T. Ranjit de Silva added, "I have been instructed to make arrangements to conduct the re-poll on April 20." He said the re poll would be confined to one polling booth involving about 900 votes.

In Nawalapitiya, a former parliamentarian of the UPFA had allegedly chased away polling agents from the 17 booths. At Kamburupiddy, a gang allegedly backed by UPFA supporters had broken into a polling centre and taken away ballot papers.

Police Chief Mahinda Balasuriya is learnt to have had a discussion on these two incidents with Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake. Thereafter the Commissioner annulled polling in those areas.

Barring the districts of Kandy and Trincomalee, official results reveal the following party positions: UPFA 117 seats, UNF 46 seats, ITAK 12 seats and DNA 5 seats. Official results in respect of 16 seats are due. The Kandy District has 12 seats whilst the Trincomalee District has 4.

The Sunday Times learns that excluding the polling that has been annulled, in Kandy the UPFA won 7 and the UNF five. In the Trincomalee District the ITAK had won two seats whilst the UPFA and the UNF had secured one each. However, political analysts say that the equations could change after the re-poll. Hence, the formulation of the National Lists of parties would have to await the conclusion of the re-poll.

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