Sri Lanka today named Thilak Marapona, a former attorney general, as the country’s new foreign minister following the resignation of Ravi Karunanayake amid a corruption scandal. Marapona, a senior aide to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a lawyer was briefly the country’s attorney general in 1994. He serves in the legal advisory team of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and is a senior member of the United National Party (UNP), the ruling coalition’s dominant party.
Marapana has been sworn in as the new Foreign Affairs Minister before President Maithripala Sirisena. Ironically Marapona himself had to resign in 2015 over a conflict of interest case from his job as Law and Order Minister. His resignation came after it was pointed out that he was the legal defence of a firm accused of running an illegal floating armory in the southern port of Galle.
Civil society groups have therefore questioned Marapona’s appointment as the court case on the floating armory is yet to be concluded. Marapona served as a government back bencher from 2015 until this year’s May when he was appointed the Special Assignments Minister. Between 2001 to end of 2003 Marapona served as the Minister of Defence.
He fills the void created by Karunanayake in the foreign ministry when he resigned last week over his testimony at the presidential commission of inquiry on the alleged Central Bank of Sri Lanka Bond scam that caused millions of dollars of losses to the country’s coffers. Karunanayake was accused of occupying an apartment paid for by the firm linked to the Bond scam.