The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader was named Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister on Thursday after the country had been without a government since Monday when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned following violence following the attack. On anti-government protesters by his supporters.
“We have political differences with him, but he is known as one with international support to bring this country out of the economic crisis we are facing,” said SM Chandrasena, a former minister and senior leader of the ruling Sri Lankan Padujana Peramuna (SLPP). The party, told reporters.
“Everywhere you look today, the tide of protectionist sentiment is flowing. I will support Ranil Wickremesinghe because he is trying to handle the economic crisis, “said Premnath Dolewatta, another ruling party MP.
However, the main opposition party, Jana Balavegia (SJB), and most of the opposition parties have claimed that his appointment was illegal.
Most opposition parties have stated they will not run in the Bikram Singh-led interim government but will support his move to address the economic crisis.
The ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) has claimed 114 seats, one more than the 113 required for a majority in the 225-member parliament. There are 42 independent members. The SJB has 54 seats. The Janata Bimukti Peramuna (JVP) has 3 seats and the Tamil National Alliance has 10 seats.
In the last election, Bikram Singh’s UNP won only one parliamentary seat, leaving him its sole representative in parliament.
Meanwhile, street protests continue across the country as people angry over the fuel and cooking gas crisis block busy roads.
Members of the ruling party are meeting with President Gotaby Rajapaksa to discuss the future of the government. President Rajapaksa himself has called for his resignation.
Vikramasinghe has promised to revive the economy and end the current queue for necessities.
Official sources said at least four cabinet ministers could be appointed after Saturday. Bikram Singh’s cabinet is expected to be limited to under 20 years.
The Prime Minister called for public patience as he sought to set up an international aid consortium to help Sri Lanka emerge from the crisis.
Sri Lanka’s worst economic crisis has sparked widespread protests calling for political reform and the resignation of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.
On April 1, President Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency, lifting it five days later. The government re-imposed a state of emergency on May 6, after police fired tear gas and arrested students protesting near parliament, which was adjourned until May 17.
Although the protests were very peaceful, police shot a protester on April 19 and used teargas and watercraft against protesters on several occasions.
Authorities have made numerous arrests and imposed repeated curfews. The political crisis began in late March when people were injured by long hours of power outages and the necessary shortages took to the streets to demand the resignation of the government.
President Rajapaksa fired his cabinet and appointed a young cabinet in response to his resignation. Protests have been going on in front of his secretariat for more than a month.
On Monday, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister to pave the way for the president to appoint an interim all-party government. On Thursday, Bikram Singh was appointed as the new Prime Minister of the country.