Colombo: Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday declared that he will soon appoint a new prime minister and a young cabinet by the end of this week.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday evening, the President said that in order to control the present economic crisis and prevent the country from heading towards anarchy, he will appoint a new cabinet with a new Prime Minister that can command a majority in Parliament and gain the confidence of the distressed citizens.
“Thereafter, a constitutional amendment will be moved to enact the content of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which will vest more powers with the Parliament. The new government’s Prime Minister will be awarded the opportunity to produce a new program and take this country forward,” he said.
Referring to the violence that took place on May 9, he said, “Within a matter of hours, nine people including an MP were inhumanely beaten and killed. Approximately 300 people were hospitalized. Many houses were set on fire. Looting was reported across the country. Curfew was imposed and before the three-armed forces were deployed, the events took place in a very organised manner.”
The country was placed immediately under curfew. On Thursday curfew was lifted at 7 AM and then reimposed at 2 PM. The curfew will thereafter be in effect until 6 AM on Friday.
According to government sources, President Gotbaya held two closed meetings with Ranil Wickremesinghe before and after he addressed the nation. There is a possibility that the President has reached an agreement with Ranil Wickremesinghe regarding the appointment of a new prime minister.
The 73-year-old Ranil Wickremesinghe heads the United National Party (UNP). The present members of the main opposition party – Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) – were former members of the UNP party. They broke away in 2020, before the general elections.
The island nation is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence from the British in 1948. Shortage of fuel, food, medicine, and monthly blackouts resulted in country-wide protests.
On May 9, the ancestral residence of former Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, who served the country thrice, was burned down to ashes. He along with his family escaped and is currently taking refugee at the naval base in Trincomalee.
Over 250 people were injured in the clashes which also saw scores of properties belonging to ruling party politicians being set on fire.