Saturday 28 May 2022
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Ranil Wickremesinghe returns as PM of strife-torn Sri Lanka

As Sri Lanka's largest opposition party refused to join a government of any Rajapaksa, Wickremesinghe, a four-time PM of the country, appeared the only option

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has sworn in veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the new prime minister of the crisis-hit Sri Lanka. Administering the oaths of office and secrecy, the president said that the 73-year-old Wickremesinghe and his cabinet will be put in place this week in an address to the nation.

With the country’s largest opposition party refusing to join a government headed by a member of the Rajapaksa clan, Wickremesinghe, a four-time prime minister of the country, appeared the only option.

While Wickremesinghe heads the United National Party, the breakaway SJB of the party currently forms the principal opposition party.

Already struggling with the most devastating economic crisis since its independence, was plunged into chaos on 9 May as then-Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down from his post, turning the elected government void.

Anti-government protesters want President Rajapaksa to step down too. The Sri Lankan parliament is expected to debate a no-confidence motion against the president on 17 May, the speaker’s office has said.

With widespread shortages of food and fuel, skyrocketing prices of essential commodities and long power cuts, there have been massive protests over the government’s handling of the situation.

On 9 May, groups of pro- and anti-government activists clashed in Colombo, triggering a curfew and a state of emergency across the island.

In his address yesterday, President Rajapaksa said that in order to “control the current situation, and prevent the country from heading towards anarchy”, he would appoint a prime minister and cabinet “that can command a majority in Parliament and gain the confidence of the people of the country”.

Sources said that the president had held talks with Wickremesinghe before and after the address and an agreement was reached.

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