South Asia News

Sri Lanka’s President-elect is to be sworn in

#Sri #Lankas #Presidentelect #sworn

Sri Lanka’s six-time Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was due to be sworn in as president on Thursday, with officials saying he will form an all-party cabinet of unity to counter the country’s economic crisis.

The 73-year-old president was elected by an overwhelming majority of parliament on Wednesday to lead the country for the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term after the ousted president fled to Singapore and resigned last week.

Political sources said Wickremesinghe will invite all political parties to join a cabinet of 30 ministers to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Former Public Administration Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, a schoolmate of Wickremesinghe, is set to become Prime Minister.

Gunawardena and Wickremesinghe have known each other since they were three and studied together at the renowned Royal College of Colombo.

Gunawardena is a union leader representing a small nationalist party allied to the ousted Rajapaksa’s SLPP party.

“There will be a few MPs coming into the cabinet from the main opposition,” said a source close to Wickremesinghe, adding that he was keen to ensure a rainbow coalition.

At a worship service at a Buddhist temple on Wednesday night after his election by the 225-member parliament, Wickremesinghe pledged a crackdown on troublemakers.

“If you’re trying to overthrow the government, to occupy the office of the President and the Prime Minister, that’s not democracy, it’s against the law,” Wickremesinghe said.

“We will deal with them strictly according to the law. We will not allow a minority of protesters to quell the aspirations of the silent majority clamoring for a change in the political system.”

Protesters who stormed Rajapaksa’s palace and toppled him earlier this month have accused Wickremesinghe of being a proxy for the once-powerful family.

“I am not a friend of the Rajapaksas,” he told reporters at Gangaramaya Temple. “I am a friend of the people.”

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