Sri Lanka eases curfew as new PM Ranil Wickremesinghe begins forming cabinet

Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed four ministers from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a decision that is unlikely to satisfy protesters

Ranil Wickremesinghe has appointed four ministers from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a decision that is unlikely to satisfy protesters

Sri Lanka lifted a nationwide 12-hour curfew on Saturday, further easing narrow curbs as new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made his first cabinet appointments after clashes between pro and anti-government groups killed nine people.

More than a month of overwhelmingly peaceful protests against the government escalated this week after supporters of former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stormed an anti-government protest camp in the commercial capital Colombo, burning tents and clashing with protesters and police.

The initial violence and reprisals against government officials also left more than 300 injured.

Severely affected by the pandemic, rising oil prices and tax cuts by the populist government, Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Useful foreign reserves have dwindled, and rampant inflation and fuel shortages have taken thousands to the streets in protest.

The government lifted the curfew from 06:00 (0030 GMT) on Saturday to 18:00. A 24-hour curfew imposed on Monday had been lifted for a few hours on Thursday and Friday to allow the purchase of necessary supplies.

Mr Rajapaksa resigned after the violence flared up on Monday, leaving his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa to rule as president.

Wickremesinghe, a five-time prime minister, was appointed to another term late on Thursday.

He appointed four ministers from Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a decision that is unlikely to satisfy protesters demanding the removal of the party from power.

The appointments, announced by the president’s office, include GL Peris, the SLPP chairman who had held the post before resigning on Monday.

Wickremesinghe is the only lawmaker from his United National Party to have a seat in parliament and is dependent on other parties to form a coalition government. SLPP has promised to support him.

The main opposition has ruled out supporting him, but several smaller parties have said they would support the new prime minister’s policy to stabilize the economy.

Leave a Comment