Sri Lanka's ex-ministers back new president's anti-graft plan

Colombo, Jan 10: Top members of Sri Lanka's former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's cabinet Saturday pledged to support the new president's plan to trim executive powers and appealed against political vengeance.

"We will support any policies that are for the benefit of the country. But we appeal to the new president and the prime minister not to seek political vengeance against us or our supporters," outgoing irrigation and water resources minister Nimal Siripala de Silva told reporters.

Sri Lanka's ex-ministers back new president's anti-graft plan

The ministers, who headed ministries such as petroleum industries, housing, and water resources told reporters that they will support new President Maithripala Sirisena's 100-day plan that is focused on reducing corruption, Xinhua news agency reported.

Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated in the election Thursday with Sirisena taking oath Friday. A fresh cabinet is yet to be announced.

Rajapaksa and his government have been accused of large-scale corruption, which was a rallying cry for the opposition.

Sirisena was also previously a cabinet member of the Rajapaksa government before resigning in November last year to put up an unexpectedly strong fight against Rajapaksa.

Sirisena himself has repeatedly given the assurance that he would ensure a smooth transition of power and would not initiate witch hunts but has maintained that the judiciary would be empowered to deal with charges of massive graft.

Despite sporadic campaign violence including the death of one opposition party worker, the voting passed off largely peacefully.

The UN chief, while congratulating the people of Sri Lanka on the successful presidential election, said he was looking forward to working with Sirisena.

"The secretary-general commends the efforts of the candidates, including in particular outgoing president Mahinda Rajapaksa, law enforcement agencies and civil society for upholding and respecting democratic governance," the statement said.

"The secretary-general looks forward to working with President Maithripala Sirisena and the people of Sri Lanka. He affirms the continuous support of the United Nations for development, reconciliation, political dialogue and accountability in Sri Lanka," it added.

Rajapaksa's government is under investigation by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for alleged war crimes committed during the last phase of Sri Lanka's three-decade separatist conflict that ended in 2009.

Rajapaksa's government had steadfastly refused to cooperate with the probe but no fresh overtures have yet been made by the new president.


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