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Four Muslims in Sri Lanka President Sirisena's 45-member cabinet
Monday January 12, 2015 10:49 PM, Agencies

Sri Lanka's newly elected President Maithripala Sirisena appointed his maiden cabinet Monday which comprises of 27 cabinet ministers, 10 state ministers and 8 deputy ministers of them a total of four are Muslims.

The four Muslims who have been included in the Sirisena cabinet are Kabir Hashim, Rishad Bathiudeen, Rauff Hakeem and Faizer Mustapha.

While Rauff Hakeem has been appointed as Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage, Rishad Bathiudeen as Minister of Industry and Commerce, and Kabir Hashim as Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion, Faizer Mustapha has been appointed as State Minister of Aviation.

Rishad Bathiudeen, Rauff Hakeem and Faizer Mustapha all three were also in former president Mahinda Rajapaksa's cabinet.

Other ministers who were part of Rajapaksa's government and crossed over with Sirisena were also given cabinet positions with power and energy as well as health ministry portfolios being among those allocated to them.

President Sirisena retained the defence portfolio in line with his executive powers but handed out top positions to a host of politicians from his coalition, predominantly the United National Party (UNP), Xinhua reported.

UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, in addition to being the prime minister, was also given the portfolio of planning and economic affairs while the post of finance minister was handed over to Ravi Karunanayake.

Long term aides were also given positions such as highways and investment promotion, home affairs, justice, tourism and education.

Addressing the newly-appointed officials Sirisena insisted this was only an interim cabinet that would focus on implementing the new president's 100-day plan that aims to trim executive powers and establish a parliamentary style of governance under a prime minister.

Once the three month period is over, Sirisena has pledged to dissolve parliament with a permanent cabinet being formed afterwards by the new prime minister who would be the leader from the party that wins the most number of seats.

"You must work to win the respect of the people. I know that some of you may not be happy with the positions you have been given but understand all power is transitory. Do not be greedy for power," he told his new cabinet.

"I also warn you that if anyone is ever caught engaging in corruption I will take the toughest measures of the law against them, whether they be cabinet minister, state minister or deputy minister," he said.

Sirisena beat Rajapaksa with over 445,000 votes in the presidential elections last Thursday.

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