Sri Lanka names senior lawyer Tilak Marapana as new foreign minister

Former Sri Lanka foreign minister Ravi Karunanayake leaving parliament after announcing his resignation, in Colombo on Aug 10, 2017.
Former Sri Lanka foreign minister Ravi Karunanayake leaving parliament after announcing his resignation, in Colombo on Aug 10, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

COLOMBO (AFP) - Sri Lanka named a veteran government lawyer as foreign minister on Tuesday (Aug 15) after the island's top diplomat stood down amid a corruption scandal.

Tilak Marapana, a former attorney general and a senior aide to the prime minister, was assigned the ministry that was vacated last week after Ravi Karunanayake resigned under a cloud of controversy.

Karunanayake has alleged ties to a controversial bond dealer at the centre of an insider trading scandal at Sri Lanka's central bank that caused millions of dollars of losses to the island's coffers.

Marapana is also no stranger to controversy. He was forced to resign as head of the powerful law and order ministry in November 2015, accused of protecting a private security firm implicated in gun running during the former regime of president Mahinda Rajapakse.

Marapana was Sri Lanka's attorney general between 1992 and 1994. He was also a defence minister from 2002 to 2004 but was sacked by then president Chandrika Kumaratunga.