Colombo, Sep 12 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena today sacked his deputy tourism minister for allegedly defying the party leadership, the second top minister removed from the government in less than a month.Also Read - SAFF Championship 2021 Match Highlights India vs Sri Lanka Match 5 Today Football Updates: Lack-Lustre India Play Out a Goalless Draw Against Sri Lanka

The president’s office said Arundika Fernando has been “dismissed from his portfolio with immediate effect”. Also Read - SAFF Championship 2021, India vs Sri Lanka: 3 Players to Watch Out For in the Indian Contingent

Fernando, a member of Sirisena’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party, had claimed that seven SLFP members would leave the government soon over corruption allegations against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s United National Party (UNP). Also Read - India vs Sri Lanka Live Streaming SAFF Championship 2021 in India: When And Where to Watch IND vs SL Live Stream Football Match Online on Discovery+, JIOTV; TV Telecast on Eurosport

The SLFP runs the unity government in coalition with the UNP, though some SLFP members back a faction of the party that supports former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Reacting to his removal, Fernando said: “If anyone thought that my sacking would deter others who plan to leave government, that will be a mistake. I will continue to remain in the party”.

A broad working arrangement between the SLFP and the UNP to run the government is set to end in December. But Sirisena and Wickremesinghe last week announced the government’s economic vision until 2020, indicating they had no intention of ending the alliance.

Sirisena fired his then justice minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse on August 23 for criticising the government over its decision to sell a majority of shares in a sea port to China.

Sirisena was elected as president in January 2015 largely on the support of the UNP. Rajapaksa had sacked Sirisena from the SLFP for challenging him in the presidential election.

But after Sirisena’s victory, Rajapaksa handed the party reigns to Sirisena. This caused a division within the SLFP with supporters of Rajapaksa forming a joint opposition.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.