Sri Lanka president to name new PM
After his supporters attacked anti-government protestors and ran a riot in Colombo, triggering days of bloodshed, Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned this week.
Officials claimed that embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa planned to nominate a new prime minister on Thursday in an attempt to steer Sri Lanka out of its catastrophic economic crisis following days of bloodshed.
Respected five-time former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe was the frontrunner to head a “unity government” with cross-party support in the 225-member parliament, replacing Rajapaksa’s elder brother Mahinda who stepped down on Monday.
“A swearing-in is likely today unless there is a last-minute hiccup,” a senior official close to the president told AFP.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday night, Rajapaksa stopped short of yielding to weeks of nationwide protests calling for him to resign.
The 22-million-strong country is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence, with acute food, gasoline, and medical shortages, as well as lengthy power outages.
Read more: The Sri Lankan economic crisis
However, in an effort to appease the opposition, Rajapaksa, 72, promised to relinquish most of his executive powers and form a new government this week.
“I will name a prime minister who will command a majority in parliament and the confidence of the people,” Rajapaksa said in the televised speech. Rajapaksa said he will also take steps to abolish the country’s powerful executive presidential system.
After his supporters attacked anti-government protesters and rioted in Colombo, Mahinda resigned as Prime Minister.
Several days of violence followed, with at least 9 people killed and more than 200 injured, with scores of Rajapaksa supporters' homes set on fire.
Since then, security troops patrolling in armored personnel carriers have been cracking down on public unrest, with orders to shoot anyone engaging in looting or violence on sight.
Thursday morning, a curfew was lifted, only to be reinstated after a six-hour reprieve to allow residents to stock up on necessities.