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Ranil Wickremesinghe returns as Sri Lanka PM to mend economy, curb civil unrest | Top points

Ranil Wickremesinghe the new PM of Sri Lanka | AP

A day after Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa addressed the nation reeling under economic crisis and civil unrest, a familiar figure returned as the new prime minister on Thursday, May 12. Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has just one seat in the 225-member Parliament, has been tasked with handling the fragile economy and containing the civil unrest.

Wickremesinghe has served as the island nation’s prime minister four times. He was fired from the post of prime minister by then President Maithripala Sirisena in October 2018. However, he was reinstalled by Sirisena after two months.

Speaking to media, Wickremesinghe said the country is facing a crisis and there is a need to get out of it. We are facing a crisis and we need to get out of it, the 73-year-old leader said.

“First step is to get into the PM office. We have an economic action plan and crucial ministers will be appointed soon. I will lift the economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned as the Sri Lankan Prime Minister on May 9, is facing calls for arrest for inciting violence that claimed at least eight lives. Rajapaksa and his family are currently taking shelter at Trincomalee Naval Base.

Here’s a quick roundup of what happened in Sri Lanka today.

1) Sri Lanka’s former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been appointed as the new PM of Sri Lanka amid an economic crisis. The decision was taken after a closed-door meeting with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday, May 11. According to the media office of the president, 73-year-old Wickremesinghe has taken his oath of office.

2) Meanwhile, Sri Lankan court imposed a travel ban on ex-PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, his son Namal Rajapaksa and 15 others in view of investigations against them for the deadly attack on anti-government protesters in Colombo. My father will not flee Sri Lanka, said Namal, adding that Rajapaksas will cooperate to any investigation regarding the violence.

READ | How Rajapaksas, Sri Lanka’s civil war heroes, became villains of its worst crisis

3) The political churn actually began when Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa accepted Sri Lanka president’s invitation to form a government, but with certain conditions. Premadasa called for the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and abolition of the executive presidency- two changes that will reshape the political landscape of the island nation.

4) With the PM situation resolved, Sri Lankan Parliament has decided to debate a no-confidence motion against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on May 17. The motion would be taken up for debate after obtaining special approval from Parliament, according to local media reports.

5) Sri Lanka’s stocks index, which was closed for two days due to violence and instability, jumped over three per cent owing to recent political developments.

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy with a severe shortage of foreign exchange. The country lacks money to buy things from the outside world. People have endured months of shortages of essentials like food, cooking gas, fuel and medicine.

This led to civil unrest with pro- and anti-government protesters clashing on the streets of Sri Lanka. Eight people died and around 250 people have been injured in the violence. The curfew, imposed in the aftermath of violence, was lifted for some time today as the nation limps back to normalcy.

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