Sri Lanka’s veteran political leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed the next Prime Minister of the crisis-hit island nation by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The 73-year-old has taken the oath of office, according to the media office of the President, who in an address to the nation yesterday, declared that a Prime Minister and his cabinet will be put in place this week.
With the country’s largest opposition party refusing to join a government headed by a member of the Rajapaksa clan, Mr Wickremesinghe — a four-time Prime Minister of the country — appeared the only option.
Wickremesinghe heads the United National Party. The breakaway SJB faction of the party currently forms the principal opposition party.
Sri Lanka, already struggling with a hard-hitting economic crisis, was plunged into chaos on Monday as Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down from his post, nulling the elected government. Anti-government protesters also want President Rajapaksa to step down.
In his address yesterday, President Rajapaksa had said to “control the current situation, and prevent the country from heading towards anarchy”, he would appoint a Prime Minister and cabinet “that can command a majority in Parliament and can gain the confidence of the people of the country”.
Sources indicated that he held talks with Mr Wickremesinghe before and after the address and an agreement was reached.
Sources had also said that discussions were in progress on who will take over after the interim Prime Minister. Several names have been proposed and in the coming days, Mr Rajapaksa will hold meetings to zero in on the right candidate.
With inputs from NDTV