'Have Taken On the Challenge of Uplifting Economy': Sri Lanka PM Wickremesinghe
73-year-old Ranil Wickremesinghe has previously served as the country's prime minister four times.
Hours after becoming the new prime minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday, 12 May, Ranil Wickremesinghe said he has taken on the challenge of uplifting the economy and must fulfil it.
"I have taken on the challenge of uplifting the economy, and I must fulfil it," Sri Lanka's new PM Ranil Wickremesinghe said in Colombo.
The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader was administered the oath of office by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Thursday evening. The elevation of Wickremesinghe as PM comes a day after Sri Lanka's president said that he would appoint a new prime minister and a Cabinet this week.
When asked about the protesters, who weren't budging from their place, and if he had been able to talk to them, he said, "They should stay. We want them to stay. If they want to talk, yes."
He also said that the island nation's relation with India "will become much better".
Wickremesinghe is a four-time prime minister of the island nation.
On Monday, 9 May, Mahinda Rajapaksa had resigned from the post of Sri Lanka's prime minister. His resignation came after supporters of Rajapaksa's government, armed with sticks, clashed with protesters outside his residence, severely injuring at least 23 people.
While making the announcement, the president had said, "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 programme and take this country forward."
Who is Ranil Wickremesinghe?
"This is a historic event," said Tamil legislator Dharmalingam Sithadthan on the decision to appoint Wickremesinghe as PM, adding, "This shows the desperate situation in our country."
73-year-old Wickremesinghe has previously served as the country's prime minister four times. However, he was removed from the post of PM in October 2018 by the then president Maithripala Sirisena, and was reinstated two months later.
He was first appointed the country's PM in 1993, after the assassination of former premier Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Wickremesinghe is also the sole parliamentary representative of the UNP, which at one time dominated Sri Lankan politics but was decimated in the latest parliamentary election.
The veteran politician takes over as PM during the worst economic crisis facing the country since 1948. The island nation has been going through an economic meltdown, during which prices of essential commodities like rice, milk, and oil have skyrocketed, resulting in massive nationwide protests and political instability.
(With inputs from AFP.)
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