A day after Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the nation, veteran political leader Ranil Wickremesinghe returned as the new prime minister on Thursday, May 12. With just one seat in the 225-member Parliament, he has been tasked with handling the fragile economy and containing the civil unrest.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa has defied calls to resign, pledging instead to form a new government after violent clashes this week left eight people dead in an escalation of a months-long crisis over food and fuel shortages.
Mahinda Rajapaksa had quit as prime minister leading to the dissolution of the cabinet, leaving no government in place to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund and creditors on $8.6 billion of debt due this year.
President Gotabaya 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”.
When asked about the India-Sri Lanka relations, Ranil replied, “It will become much better.”
His statement comes even as India said it looks forward to working with the new Sri Lankan government formed in accordance with the democratic processes and New Delhi’s commitment to the people of the island nation will continue.
“India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka will continue,” the High Commission said in a tweet.
The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader was appointed as the prime minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after they held closed-door discussions on Wednesday.