Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as PM of crisis-hit Sri Lanka


Colombo, May 12: Five-time former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been reappointed for a sixth time in an effort to bring stability to his country amid a political and economic crisis that has engulfed the island nation.

Wickremesinghe, 73, took his oath before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at a ceremony in the president’s office on Thursday.

“A cabinet is likely to be appointed tomorrow,” Sudewa Hettiarachchi, a spokesman for President Rajapaksa, told AFP.

The president’s brother, Mahinda Rajakapsa, resigned as prime minister on Monday following outrage about violent attacks by his supporters on peaceful protesters who have demanded the government step down.

His resignation automatically dissolved the Cabinet, leaving an administrative vacuum.

The president’s selection of Wickremesinghe is seen as an attempt to end violence triggered by the economic crisis and restore international credibility as the government negotiates a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund.

“This is a historic event,” Tamil legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan said in reference to Wickremesinghe’s latest return to the top office.

“This shows the desperate situation in our country.”
Vajira Abeywardena, an official of the United National Party (UNP) which Wickremesinghe heads, said earlier on Thursday that members of parliament had asked Wickremesinghe “to take over and solve the country’s problems”.

Abeywardena said more than 160 legislators in the 225-member parliament supported Wickremesinghe’s selection, but this could not be verified independently.

In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday night, Rajapaksa stopped short of yielding to weeks of nationwide protests calling for him to resign as president over the country’s worst economic downturn since independence.-Agencies

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