High drama prevailed at the weekly meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers yesterday, with several ministers threatening to quit the government if transparency does not prevail when it comes to decision making by the leaders including President Maithripala Sirisena and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe.
At one point during the stormy session Wickremesinghe had walked out with one minister describing that he had left in anger and another saying that the Premier had left to prepare for his special statement in parliament on the governments mid-term economic plan.
The Premier however had not returned to the meeting room thereafter.
The hotly debated issue during the meeting was the special statement made by Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana in Parliament on the Avant Garde issue on Wednesday.
Ministers Rajitha Senaratne and Champika Ranawaka posed the question on how Marapana could make a special statement in parliament without the permission of the cabinet.
Senaratne questioned on who had given permission for Marapana to make a special statement.
A visibly agitated Senaratne had questioned whether Marapana was batting on behalf of the Avant Garde as he was in the company’s payroll.
Meanwhile according to a minister present at the meeting an angry Ranawaka had said that while some ministers who had entered the cabinet through the backdoor were running amok, those who fought tooth and nail to topple Rajapaksa and bring the new government to power were being sidelined.
Meanwhile Minister Rauff Hakeem too had backed Ranawaka and Senaratne noting that transparency was lacking when it came to decision making from those in the highest echelons of the government.
A number of ministers questioned the views expressed by Marapana and asked the President whether this was an attempt to sweep the issue under the carpet,
One minister recalled that Marapana’s name was linked to the Avant Garde issue during the previous regime’s time as well and urged the President to investigate the matter.
Marapana had represented Avant Garde in a law suit during the previous regimes time.
Both Ranawaka and Senaratne had threatened to quit if transparency does not prevail when it comes to decision making by the leaders. They also urged Sirisena to continue with the Avant Garde probe irrespective of Marapana’s stand.
Meanwhile Sirisena promised the ministers that he would look into the matter.
However, the debate on the issue which even prevailed after President’s assurance showed that Ministers were not happy.
Marapana making a special statement in parliament on Wednesday said that the Police had raided the Avant-Garde floating armoury vessel at the Galle Harbour soon after the election to ‘score points’.
While dismissing allegations over the whole matter, the Minister stated that it was similar to the millennium city affair in 2002 when a hideout of government intelligence officers were raided at Athurugiriya, while revealing their identities to the outside,
Minister Marapana told parliament that facts have been distorted to create a wrong picture in the minds of the people.