Amid the worst economic crisis in seven decades, political parties in Sri Lanka are not ready to accept Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new President, say sources. Meanwhile, top sources said India is watching the situation closely and wants the “systems to remain intact".
The island nation, which is home to 22 million people, has suffered months of lengthy blackouts, acute food and fuel shortages and galloping inflation in its most painful economic meltdown.
According to the Sri Lankan Constitution, the Prime Minister automatically becomes the President after the sitting President resigns. Serious thinking on his impeachment is on, said sources.
A group of protesters on Saturday entered Wickremesinghe’s private residence and set it on fire, hours after he offered to resign to make way for an all-party government. The Prime Minister’s Media Division said that Wickremesinghe will resign after an all-party government is established and the majority is secured in Parliament.
His office said that Wickremesinghe will continue as Prime Minister until then.
#Breaking | #Exclusive | Latest in #SriLankaEconomicCrisis | PM Ranil Wickremesinghe is likely to be impeached.(Exclusive Input: @manojkumargupta)@abhishekjha157 shares details with @shilparathnam pic.twitter.com/ishHzCRkFf
— News18 (@CNNnews18) July 10, 2022
Political parties are not ready to accept a President who doesn’t have mass support and not a single MP in Parliament, said sources. There are also questions on his leadership ability to manage the situation. Also, he is not a popular leader and has never delivered in times of need, said sources.
Meanwhile, top Indian government sources said: “The Government of India wants whatever is good for their country and people of Sri Lanka. The Indian government is always available for any help and support to people of Sri Lanka.”
PM’s HOUSE ON FIRE
Protesters entered 73-year-old Wickremesinghe’s house on 5th Lane in Colombo and set the place on fire after a tense situation erupted between the protestors and security forces on the ground. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was inside at the time of the attack. Despite tear gas being fired on the protesters to disperse, they entered his house and set the house on fire, authorities said. Videos posted online showed protesters rejoicing after setting the house on fire. Three protesters have been arrested for the arson.
Earlier in the day, anti-government protesters entered the Presidential House in Colombo. The president’s whereabouts were unknown and it is believed the 73-year-old leader left the house before the massive mob arrived. Meanwhile, Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) fire brigade said they were informed that the Prime Minister’s private residence in Colombo was set on fire and its teams were unable to reach the location due to the unrest.
Protesters blame Rajapaksa for the country’s economic malaise, the worst since independence in 1948. Last week, Wickremesinghe announced in Parliament that Sri Lanka would present a debt restructuring programme to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by August to secure a bailout package while underlining that the negotiations with the global lender were more complex and difficult than in the past because the country was bankrupt.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026.
Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.
With PTI Inputs