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Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as new PM of Sri Lanka amidst worst economic crisis & political turmoil, says- ‘I want to thank PM Modi’

Punjab Tribune Bureau | May 13, 2022 11:10 AM

COLOMBO: Opposition leader and former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe have sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday to stabilise the countery’s debt-ridden economy and end the political turmoil.

Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that he looks forward to building closer relations with India during his tenure and expressed his gratitude to India for providing financial assistance to the country. Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence. Wickremesinghe, the 73-year-old leader of the United National Party (UNP), has been sworn in as the 26th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Referring to India's financial assistance to his country, Wickremesinghe said, "I want close relations and I want to express my gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

India said - hopeful about the new government of Sri Lanka

His remarks came after taking oath at a religious function held here last night. India has given a loan of more than three billion dollars to Sri Lanka since January this year. India on Thursday said it looked forward to working with the new Sri Lankan government formed in accordance with democratic procedures and New Delhi's commitment to the people of the island nation would remain intact.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned in the country on Monday. Mahinda resigned after violence erupted over attacks on anti-government protesters by his supporters.

Sri Lanka going through a big crisis

The attack was followed by widespread violence against Rajapaksa loyalists, in which nine people died and more than 200 were injured. Wickremesinghe said that his focus is on dealing with the economic crisis. "I want to solve this problem so that the supply of petrol, diesel, and electricity can be ensured," he said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said, "I will do the work I have undertaken." Asked whether his prime ministership could continue as he has only one seat in the 225-member parliament, he said, "When it comes to proving majority, I will prove it."

 

Referring to the protests across the country, he said the main protest, which has been going on near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's secretariat for more than a month, would be allowed to continue. "If the protesters want, I will talk to them," he said.

Asked whether he feared a protest demanding his resignation, Wickremesinghe said he would face them. According to sources, the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a faction of the opposition Samagi Jana Balwegaya (SJB) and many others, according to sources. Members of the parties have expressed their support for Wickremesinghe to prove his majority in Parliament.

 

However, many sections are opposing the appointment of Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister. The JVP (Janata Vimukthi Peramuna) and the Tamil National Alliance claimed that his appointment was unconstitutional. Former President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party said its central committee would meet on Friday morning to take a decision.

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