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Sri Lanka's new government gets support from two influential political groups

Since assuming office last week, Wickremesinghe has been quite honest while describing the challenges faced by the country, admitting the situation may get worse before getting better. However, he assured the country the supply of critical and basic needs like food, fuel, and medicines will be ensured

May 16, 2022
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Ranil Wickremesinghe

Days after Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed the office of prime minister in crisis-hit Sri Lanka, two different political groups extended their support to the newly formed government to resolve the worst economic crisis that the island country has faced since its independence in 1948.

An independent group of 40 lawmakers from ten parties led by former energy minister Udaya Gammanpila has extended support to the new government. 

However, he clarified that the group will not join the government but support the government's efforts through the national council and parliamentary oversight committees.

Another party SLFP, led by former president Mathripala Srisena, which had earlier refused to be part of the new government, has now also extended support and even showed a willingness to discuss the distribution of portfolios.

The development is encouraging for Wickremesinghe, especially to boost cross-party support for its crisis cabinet to steer the country out of the grave economic and political crisis. It will also help him to dispel the impression that the government is only reliant on the SLPP, the country’s main ruling party led by the now-disgraced Rajapaksa family.

However, the SJB, the main opposition party led by Sajith Premadasa, still remains non-committal, demanding the government fix the timeline for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to demit office. This, the party said, remains the primary wish of the protesting people.

Since assuming office last week, Wickremesinghe has been quite honest while describing the challenges faced by the country, admitting the situation may get worse before getting better. However, he assured the country the supply of critical and basic needs like food, fuel, and medicines will be ensured.

“We have managed to get things moving in the last 48 hours,” Ranil said in a tweet on Sunday, stressing, “there is a lot to be done and undone.” On fuel, the government, he said, is exploring alternative options to pay for the supply for the next weeks.

He also informed that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Bank have assured assistance in providing critical medicine, food, and fertilizer. Most importantly, the proposed 21st amendment, which will reduce the power of the executive presidency and re-empower the parliament, will also be discussed with relevant stakeholders, he said. 

Wickremesinghe, who has been the country’s prime minister five times earlier, has vast administrative experience and is known for his ability to tackle economic challenges. Western capitals, that were concerned over deteriorating political instability in the country, have also largely taken his selections as prime minister positively.
(SAM)

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