Rajapaksa swears in 4 cabinet members amid Sri Lanka crisis

Rajapaksa swears in 4 cabinet members amid Sri Lanka crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) – Sri Lanka’s president swore in four new ministers on Saturday in an effort to ensure stability until a full cabinet is formed in the island nation mired in political and economic crisis.

The appointment of four ministers came two days after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reappointed former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe five times.after his predecessor – the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa – resigned on Monday following violent attacks by their supporters in peaceful anti-government protesters.

His resignation automatically dissolved the Cabinet, leaving an administrative vacuum.

In a move to bring stability back, President Rajapaksa reappointed Wickremesinghe on Thursday and swore in four ministers on Saturday until a full cabinet is appointed.

Rajapaksa swore in ministers of Foreign Affairs, Public Administration and Home Affairs, Urban Development and Power and Energy, said a statement Saturday from the president’s office.

All four ministers belong to the president’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party. The new prime minister belongs to the United National Party.

Rajapaksa sought a unity government in early April, but the main opposition political party, the United People’s Force, or SJB, immediately rejected the proposal..

The Indian Ocean island nation is on the brink of bankruptcy and has suspended repayment on its foreign loans pending negotiations on a rescue package with the International Monetary Fund.

It needs to pay off $7 billion in foreign debt this year of $25 billion due in 2026. Its total foreign debt is $51 billion. The Ministry of Finance says the country currently has only $25 million in usable foreign reserves.

For several months, Sri Lankans faced long lines to buy fuel, cooking gas, food and medicine, most of which came from abroad. Hard currency shortages also hurt imports of raw materials for manufacturing and worsened inflation, which rose to 18.7% in March.

Sri Lanka’s economic problems provoked a political crisis, with the government facing widespread protests for several weeks.

On Wednesday, authorities deployed armored vehicles and troops on the capital’s streets after attacks on protesters sparked a wave of violence across the country. Nine people died and more than 200 were injured.

Security forces were ordered to shoot people considered participants in the violence, as sporadic acts of arson and vandalism continued despite a strict nationwide curfew that began Monday night.

Protesters demanded the resignation of the Rajapaksa brothers because of the debt crisis that nearly bankrupted the country and caused severe shortages of fuel, food and other essentials.

So far, President Rajapaksa has resisted calls to resign.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.