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Sri Lanka's new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe assumes duties

Sri Lankas new Prime Minister Wickremesinghe assumes duties

Colombo: Ranil Wickremesinghe assumed office as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the sixth time on Friday even as Opposition parties SJP and JVP announced that they will not extend any support to him as his appointment has been made with "zero regard" to the voice of the people.

The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader took over as Sri Lanka's 26th prime minister on Thursday as the country was without a government since Monday when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's elder brother and prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned after violence erupted following an attack on the anti-government protesters by his supporters. The attack triggered widespread violence against Rajapaksa loyalists, leaving nine people dead and wounding over 200 others.

Wickremesinghe had been sworn in as the prime minister of Sri Lanka on five occasions before. He was first appointed as the prime minister from 1993 1994 after the assassination of then President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Subsequently, from 2001 to 2004 he was elected as the prime minister to lead the United National Front Government during the presidency of President Chandrika Bandaranayake. In January 2015, he was appointed as the prime minister of the coalition government on the election of then President Maithripala Sirisena. His appointment was sanctioned by the Sri Lankan people at the general election of August 2015.

Once again, in December 2018, then-President Sirisena was compelled to appoint him as the prime minister after having dismissed him in October 2018. In November 2019, after the defeat of the UNP presidential candidate, he resigned from his position of prime minister.

During his visit to the Walukaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya in Colombo after taking oaths as the Prime Minister, Wickremesinghe said that the GotaGoGama struggle must continue, and he will not intervene with the struggle, News 1st website reported. Police would not do anything to them, and the struggle must continue, he was quoted as saying.

The veteran politician is seen as being close to the Rajapaksa clan. But he does not currently command much support from the Opposition or among the public. It remains to be seen if he can prove his majority in the 225-member Parliament.

Meanwhile, the Opposition party Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) General Secretary Ranjith Madduma Bandara said on Friday that they will not extend any support to Wickremesinghe.

The Parliamentary Group of the SJB, which has 54 seats in the 225-member Parliament, will meet on Friday at the Office of the Opposition Leader to discuss the motion against the President, and also the current political situation.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance also opposed his appointment, saying it was unconstitutional. The JVP has 3 seats while TNA has 10 seats in the 225-member Parliament.

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake said the decision taken by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to appoint Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, is one that was made with zero regard to the voice of the people, the News First website reported.

The JVP leader ridiculed the decision, saying the appointment has no legitimacy and has no democratic value.

Wickremesinghe is a person who held the post of Prime Minister, formed governments, and yet could not even win a single seat at the last

General Election.

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