Sri Lanka’s new PM extends support to protesters demanding President Rajapaksa’s resignation – Times of India

COLOMBO: In an unusual move, Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stepped up public support for the protesters, who have been camping on a popular beach here for more than a month, demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for tackling the country’s worst economic crisis.
The Prime Minister said on Saturday that he had appointed a committee to look after the interests of village protesters “Gota Go Home” who have been camping at Colombo’s Galle Face Green since April 9.
Wickremesinghe, who was appointed prime minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa after asking his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa to quit, said the young protesters in the village would be protected and their views sought for future policy-making.
In an interview with the BBC Sinhala Service, the Prime Minister said that the “Gota Go Gama” protest should continue to bring about a change in the political system in the country and let the country’s youth take responsibility for leading.
Wickremesinghe, the 73-year-old leader of the United National Party (UNP), was named Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister on Thursday because the country has been without a government since Monday when Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted following an attack on anti-government protesters by their followers.
The attack triggered widespread violence against Rajapaksa loyalists, leaving nine people dead and wounding more than 200 others.
Rajapaksa’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) has increased its support for Wickremesinghe and almost all parties represented in parliament with 225 members have said that even if they were not a party to Wickremesinghe’s government, they would support him in his attempt to pull Sri Lanka. from the current economic crisis.
Political sources said that two more ministers will be appointed to the interim government on Sunday. Rajapaksa appointed four of them on Saturday. At least 78 parliamentarians, including former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, had been assassinated on their private property during the May 9 riots.
At the government’s parliamentary group meeting held on Saturday, attendance was low as parliamentarians still fear for their lives despite the introduction of a curfew.
The attendees accused the police inspector of what they claimed to be “police redemption” to prevent arson on government parliamentarians’ properties.
Sri Lanka is going through the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
A devastating shortage of foreign reserves has led to long queues for fuel, cooking gas and other necessities while power outages and soaring food prices piled up misery on the people.
The economic crisis also triggered a political crisis in Sri Lanka and a demand for the departure of the powerful Rajapaksa.
President Rajapaksa fired his cabinet and appointed a younger cabinet in response to the demand for his resignation. An ongoing protest against his secretariat has now been going on for just over a month.

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