Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister, has expressed his desire for better connections with India during his term and praised India for its economic help as the country grapples with its worst economic crisis since independence. On Thursday, Wickremesinghe, 73, was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister, to restore stability to the country’s debt-ridden economy and end political unrest.
I want to have a stronger relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and I want to express my gratitude to him. Wickremesinghe was speaking on India’s economic support to Sri Lanka. After taking the oath, he made his remarks during a religious ritual conducted here Friday night.
Since January of this year, India has pledged more than USD 3 billion to debt-ridden Sri Lanka in the form of loans, credit lines, and credit swaps. India said on Thursday that it looks forward to working with the new Sri Lankan government, which was created through democratic processes, and that New Delhi’s commitment to the island’s people will remain unchanged.
The country has been without a government since Monday when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa quit after violence erupted following his supporters’ attack on anti-government protestors. The attack sparked widespread violence against Rajapaksa supporters, with nine people killed and over 200 more injured.
Wickremesinghe stated that his attention was only on the economic issue. “I want to solve this situation so that people may get gasoline, fuel, and power,” Wickremesinghe stated.
Sri Lanka is in the midst of its biggest economic crisis since its 1948 independence from the United Kingdom. A lack of foreign currency has contributed to the issue, since the country has been unable to pay for imports of basic goods and gasoline, resulting in severe shortages and exorbitant costs. I will complete the task that I have agreed to do.
When asked if he could keep his premiership in the 225-member Parliament because he only has one seat, he replied, “I will prove the majority.” Wickremesinghe said the primary demonstration near President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s secretariat, which has been going on for over a month, would be allowed to continue.
If they (protesters) are willing, I will speak with them,” he stated. Asked if he feared protest demanding him to quit, he said he would face them.
“If I can handle the economic crisis, I can handle anything,” he declared. Wickremesinghe was chosen Prime Minister after the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the third-largest party Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) imposed stringent conditions on the interim government, including President Rajapaksa’s resignation.
Wickremesinghe is the leader of the interim administration, which will include all political parties for a limited time before allowing parliamentary elections. According to sources, members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a segment of the main Opposition SJB, and numerous other parties have stated their support for Wickremesinghe gaining a majority in Parliament.