Sri Lankan Protesters Reject Anti-Government Campaign Despite New PM -By ASC

Sri Lanka’s main opposition party joined anti-government protesters on Friday in rejecting the appointment of a new prime minister and urging the president to resign to take responsibility for the economic crisis plaguing the country.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed five -time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for his sixth term late Thursday, but opposition comments indicated it was unlikely to resolve the political and economic turmoil in the strategic Indian Ocean island nation.

A week of violent fighting between protesters and government supporters across the country has left nine people dead and more than 300 injured. The president’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, resigned as prime minister on Monday as violence escalated and hid at military bases.

The other cabinets stopped early.

“It is clear the (new) prime minister is remotely controlled by the president,” said Eran Wickramaratne, an MP and senior member of the main opposition party, Samagi Jana Balawegaya. “The country wants Rajapaksa to return. We are committed to that goal.”

Protesters who have been camping at the site near the prime minister’s office for more than a month also rejected the appointment.

“We will stop this struggle when our people get justice,” said Chamalage Shivakumar, one of hundreds of people at the “Gota Go Home” protest site, named after the president.

“Whoever they appoint as prime minister, we will not stop this struggle until the people get help.”

Wickremesinghe, 73, is the only lawmaker from his United National Party in parliament and will rely on rival political parties to form a coalition government. The Rajapaksas-led coalition holds about 100 of the 225 parliamentary seats, while the opposition has 58 seats. The rest are independent.

On Friday, Wickremesinghe held talks with foreign envoys representing India, Japan, the United States and China, his office said.

“Discussing continued cooperation for economic recovery and stability in Sri Lanka through the democratic process,” the Indian High Commission in Colombo said in a tweet.

New Delhi is battling China for influence in Sri Lanka, which is located on a major shipping route between Asia and Europe and is home to major infrastructure projects funded by both countries.

The prime minister also held an emergency meeting with officials from the energy ministry on the chronic fuel shortages that have plagued the island for months.

Protesters said Wickremesinghe’s appointment would not help much to quell anger at the president, who they say was ultimately responsible for the worst economic crisis to hit the country since it became independent from Britain in 1948.

Hit hard by the epidemic, rising oil prices and populist tax cuts by the Rajapaksa brothers, Sri Lanka is very low in foreign exchange.

Widespread inflation and fuel shortages brought thousands of people down the streets in a month of protests that remained peaceful until this week.

Sri Lankan power regulators on Friday said power cuts had increased on average to five and a half hours a day this week, as no fuel was available for thermal power generation.

“Crude oil shipments have been at the port for a week but the government has not been able to meet the charges. However, we have increased hydropower and renewable energy to about 60% to cover the shortage,” Sri Lanka Public Utilities Commission chairman Janaka Ratnayake said in a statement. statement.

(This story has not been edited by AGRASMARTCITY staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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