United National Party (UNP) leader Vikram Singh was appointed 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 after violence erupted after attacks on opponents. -Government protests by its supporters.
“As a responsible political party, Samagi Jana Balaweiga believes that the most important thing is to save the country from the current crisis,” the SJB said in a statement.
“Accordingly, with no portfolio and for the betterment of the country, the SJB has decided in its parliamentary group discussions today to fully support the present government in its efforts for economic recovery,” it said.
But support comes with certain riders.
“Parliamentary groups have decided to unconditionally withdraw their support if government groups seek to secede from the SJB or engage SJB MPs in activities contrary to SJB policy,” it added.
The SJB had earlier refused to support Bikram Singh as prime minister in the interim all-party government, saying the 73-year-old had no mandate as his party was the sole representative in the 225-member parliament.
After his appointment last week, Vikramasinghe wrote a letter to SJB leader Sajith Premadasa requesting for bipartisanship.
“We all know very well that Sri Lanka is facing a huge economic, social and political crisis. It is indisputable that we all need to end this crisis and establish a stable economy that is irrevocable. Will determine the path of the country, “wrote Vikramasinghe.
Despite the SJB’s conditional support, Bikram Singh said on Monday that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution would be discussed with the Attorney General’s Department on Monday to curb the President’s power so that it could be submitted to the cabinet for approval.
The 21st Amendment is expected to repeal 20A which after the repeal of the 19th Amendment gave President Gotabaya Rajapaksa uninterrupted power which strengthened the parliament over the President.
“21st Amendment: It will be taken up for discussion with the Attorney General’s Department tomorrow (Monday) and then presented to the Cabinet for approval,” Vikramasinghe tweeted.
The powerful Rajapaksa family held on to power after their landslide victory in the August 2020 general election, which allowed them to amend the constitution to restore the power of the president and place close family members in key positions.
In his 2019 presidency, Gotabaya Rajapaksa won a credible mandate for a presidency during which he sought full presidential power over parliament.
Meanwhile, Vikram Singh, who on Sunday discussed the country’s current economic crisis with representatives of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, said the two financial institutions had pledged to help procure essential items such as medicines, food and fertilizers.
Since gaining independence from Britain in 1948, Sri Lanka has plunged into unprecedented economic instability.
A crippling deficit in foreign reserves has led to long lines for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power outages and rising food prices have taken a toll on citizens.
The economic crisis has also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka, with powerful government demanding the resignation of the powerful Rajapaksa.