Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday appointed four members of the ruling party to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s cabinet, including GL Peiris, as foreign minister, even as the new prime minister appointed the country’s prime minister. Approached the opposition for bipartisanship to deal with the crippling economic and political. Problem.
The President’s Office said Dinesh Gunawardene was sworn in as Minister of Public Administration, Paris as Minister of External Affairs, Prasanna Ranatunga as Minister of Urban Development and Housing and Kanchana Wijesekara as Minister of Power and Energy.
It was the first appointment of an all-party interim government announced by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who still faces demands for his resignation for mishandling the island nation’s economy. He has already sacrificed his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa by forcibly resigning on Monday.
All four appointments came from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP).
Peirce was also the foreign minister in the cabinet of former prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Retaining him as the country’s top diplomat, Colombo wants to maintain continuity in foreign policy matters at a time when the debt-ridden country is seeking more aid from countries like India.
The SLPP has decided to give significant support to Wickremesinghe, who has just one seat in Parliament, to help him prove his majority in the House.
Most opposition parties in Sri Lanka announced that they would not join the interim government led by Wickremesinghe.
In a letter to main opposition Samagi Jana Balvegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa, Wickremesinghe asked him to help tide over the economic crisis by supporting the Wickremesinghe premiership.
“We all know very well that Sri Lanka is facing a major economic, social and political crisis. It is irrefutable that we all should unite to end this crisis which is intensifying every day and establish a stable economy. We all have a historic responsibility to secure the future of the next generation, given that our actions in this moment will determine the path of this country,” wrote Wickramasinghe.
The Prime Minister said that he took the task of opening a new political path for the country by establishing a government free from party differences and obtained the support of all parties representing Parliament.
“Treading on this new path and working to the best of each of us to bring stability in the country is the only option left to save the country from the current crisis,” he said.
“Every day that passes, the future of this country is put at greater risk. I look forward to your prompt and positive response to this request.”
Premadasa had made the last attempt to become prime minister before Wickremesinghe.
Wickremesinghe asked Premadasa to forget the political differences in the task of rebuilding the economy to stabilize the country.
Responding to the letter, Premadasa assured the Prime Minister that as a responsible opposition, he would support the government in its efforts to tackle the economic crisis.
Premadasa said his party as a responsible opposition would support the “right decisions” taken by the new government to address the economic issues facing the people.
He has reiterated that his party will pressurize him to form the government without the Rajapaksa brothers.
Premadasa’s SJB had pledged not to be part of the government, claiming that Wickremesinghe did not have public approval to become the premier.
Meanwhile, lawyers’ body, BASL, in a statement called on Wickremesinghe to demonstrate his ability to establish consensus among all political parties in Parliament.
It has called for a deadline to implement constitutional reforms – the 21st Amendment and the abolition of the office of the acting president.
The 21st amendment is expected to repeal 20A, which gave President Rajapaksa absolutist powers after scrapping the 19th amendment, which made parliament powerful over the president.
United National Party (UNP) leader Wickremesinghe, 73, was on Thursday appointed as Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister, as the country has not had a government since Monday, when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. He resigned after the violence broke out. After his supporters attacked anti-government protesters.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. Severe shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other essentials, while power cuts and hike in food prices have added to the misery of the people.
The economic crisis also led to a political crisis in Sri Lanka and demanded the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa.
President Rajapaksa dismissed his cabinet and appointed a youth cabinet in response to calls for his resignation. There has been a continuous sit-in in front of his secretariat for more than a month.
On Monday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister to find a way for the president to appoint an interim all-political party government. Wickremesinghe was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the country on Thursday.
Meanwhile, police media spokesperson Nihal Thaladuwa said that around 90 people have been arrested in connection with the violence that took place across the island on Monday.
He said around 100 people have been arrested for inciting acts of violence through social media networks.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)