Gota And The Ministry Of Defence: What Are The Ways Out?

Although the Government’s official communique on the Cabinet of Ministers named President Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the Minister of Defence, the relevant Gazette notification has no such entry. Article 43(2) of the Constitution, as amended by the Nineteenth Amendment, provides that the President shall, on the advice of the Prime Minister, appoint from among Members of Parliament, Ministers, to be in charge of Ministries determined. Thus, although the President continues to be the Head of the Cabinet of Ministers, he cannot hold a Ministry; only MPs can. This is fortified by the transitional provision in section 51 of the Nineteenth Amendment, applicable only to the President in office at the time the Nineteenth Amendment was enacted, that the President may assign to himself the subjects and functions of Defence, Mahaweli Development and Environment. The need for such a transitional provision was because President Maithripala Sirisena could not have otherwise held a Ministry.

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