Colombo: Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as Sri Lankan prime minister for the sixth time as the island nation faces political and economic crises. His appointment comes days after Mahinda Rajapaksa, brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, vacated the position amid riots triggered by his supporters.
Leader of United National Party (UNP) Wickremesinghe, 73, is the scion of an elite family whose roots go back to pre-independence Sri Lanka. He had served his first stint as the prime minister when President Premadasa was assassinated on May 1, 1993, and DB Wijetunga took over the presidency.
Wickremesinghe’s majority in Parliament is contingent on substantial support from the ruling party as he is currently the only Member of Parliament from his party. Wickremesinghe now faces the task of reversing years of economic mismanagement and corruption and winning popular support.
Even before Wickremesinghe was sworn in by the President, some religious leaders objected to the move, contending that it was “not the solution” people want. The political opposition too expressed strong disapproval of the President’s choice. Leader of Janata Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake said, “Ranil protects the Rajapaksas, and the Rajapaksas protect Ranil. No citizen in this country will fall for their conspiracy this time.”
In a cautiously worded reaction, India said it “looks forward to working with the Government of Sri Lanka formed in accordance with democratic processes pursuant to the swearing-in” of Wickremesinghe.