COLOMBO: In an effort to bring stability to the island nation, besieged by an economic crisis that resulted in political turmoil, Sri Lanka has fallen back on the experience of seasoned veteran Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Wickremesinghe, 73, was reappointed as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday for the sixth time in a decision that is not welcomed by all.
Wickremesinghe took his oath in a ceremony at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence as the protestors have blocked the entrance to the president’s office for more than a month.
It is learnt that Wickremesinghe held several meetings with President Rajapaksa prior to assuming the Prime Ministership.
Wickremesinghe’s relationship with the Rajapaksa clan goes back a long way as during his previous tenure as the PM from 2015-to 2019, the former was accused of protecting the latter’s powerful family from allegations of corruption and other wrongdoings.
Pointing out the fact, that opposition leaders and various religious leaders had opposed Wickremesinghe’s appointment saying the decision is more about protecting the President and his family from the public anger over the Rajapaksa family over their role in the economic crisis.
Interestingly, Wickremesinghe’s political party, United National Party, split in 2020 amid a leadership crisis and most senior members left to form a new party called Samagi Jana Balawegaya. That new party is currently the country’s main opposition and its leader Sajith Premadasa had earlier refused the offer to become the next PM.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis in recent times. The country is nearly bankrupt and its current foreign debt is USD 51 billion. Its finance ministry had earlier said that Lanka’s foreign reserves have plummeted to $25 million.
The foreign currency shortage led to a sharp decline in imports, leading to severe shortages of essentials such as fuel, cooking gas, food and medicine.
Hardship forced common people to take the street and protest against the two Rajapakshas – President Gotabaya Rajapaksha and his brother and former PM Mahinda Rajapaksha – who they blamed for the mismanagement of Lanka’s economy.