Uditha Jayasinghe & Alasdair Pa
COLOMBO (Reuters). COLOMBO (Reuters). Sri Lanka’s opposition parties joined the anti-government protesters in rejecting Friday’s appointment of a new prime Minister. The party demanded the resignation of the President to be held responsible for the nation’s devastating economic crisis.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the five-time prime Minister of the Indian Ocean nation, was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to his sixth term on Thursday. However opposition commentators indicated that it would not resolve the economic and political problems in this strategically important Indian Ocean country.
Nine people were killed and over 300 injured in violent clashes between government supporters and protesters across the country last week. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s older brother was elected president on Monday. Violence spiralled out of control and he is now hiding at a military base.
The remainder of the cabinet left earlier.
Eran Wickramaratne (a parliamentarian, senior member of Samagi Jana Balawegaya’s main opposition party), stated that “It is evident the (new] prime minister” is being remotely controlled by President.” This country is determined to see the Rajapaksas return home. That goal is our commitment.
Protesters, who for the past month have gathered at a location near the office of the prime minister, also rejected the appointment.
Chamalage Shivakumar said, “We will end this struggle when our people receive justice,” and was one of hundreds who protested at the “Gota Get Home” site named after President Obama.
We will continue this fight until the people are relieved, regardless of who they choose to appoint prime minister.
Wickremesinghe is 73 years old and the only member of his United National Party to be in parliament. To form a coalition government, Wickremesinghe will need support from rival parties. A Rajapaksa-led alliance holds approximately 100 of the 225 Parliament seats. The opposition, however, has 58. Rest are independent.
According to his office, Wickremesinghe had talks on Friday with foreign envoys from India, Japan, America, and China.
In a tweet, the Indian High Commission in Colombo stated that they had “discussed continued cooperation in economic recovery and stabilization in Sri Lanka via democratic processes.”
New Delhi has been battling China to gain influence over Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is located on important shipping lanes connecting Asia and Europe, and home of major infrastructure projects funded by both nations.
A meeting was also called by the prime minister with representatives from the energy ministry to discuss chronic fuel shortages, which have plagued the island for several months.
Protesters claimed Wickremesinghe’s appointment will not ease anger at the president. They claim Wickremesinghe is ultimately responsible of the country’s worst economic crisis since 1948, when it was independent from Britain.
Sri Lanka has been severely affected by rising oil prices, pandemics, and populist tax reductions by the Rajapaksa siblings.
Inflation and fuel scarcity drew thousands to the streets during a month-long protest that was largely peaceful up until now.
Sri Lanka’s power regulator stated Friday that the average power cut in Sri Lanka was five hours and fifty-five minutes per day. This is because no fuel had been available to generate thermal energy.
“A shipment arrived at port after a week and the government was unable to pay it.” In order to compensate, however, we have increased hydro and renewable energy to approximately 60%,” Janaka Ratnayake (Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka) stated in a statement.