News In Sri Lanka – by Dr harold Gunatillake
Bringing the most important latest news to your doorstep “If the ongoing protests diminish through fatigue and fail to monitor Wickremasinghe, Lanka’s fall into the abyss will not only be inevitable but extremely painful as well”.
Sasanka Perera-Professor of Sociology and Dean of Social Sciences at South Asian University, New Delhi.
In his first interview since taking office, Mr Wickremesinghe told the BBC he would ensure families get three meals a day. Appealing to the world for more financial help, he said, “there won’t be a hunger crisis; we
will find food”.
The new PM described the Sri Lankan economy as “broken”, but he said his message to Sri Lankans was to “be patient; I will bring things back”.
Sri Lanka’s political and socio-economic disaster turned into deadly combat between the progovernment thugs with the backing of Mahinda Rajapaksa and several MPs’, killing eight people and wounding over 200 anti-government demonstrators in front of the Temple Trees, the residence of the PM, on Galle Road. The military had been called to contain the violence, and a curfew was enforced.
Attorney General’s Department directed the CID to arrest 22 suspects, including MPs Johnston Fernando, Sanath Nishantha, Sanjeeva Edirimanna and Senior DIG Western Province, “if sufficient evidence is available against them. Over the attack on protesters near Temple Trees and Galle Face on May 9.”
The Department has also instructed the CID to record the statements of those on whom foreign travel bans have been imposed. There is a foreign travel ban on former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Former Provincial Councillor (PC) Amal Silva and an employee of the Moratuwa Urban Council have been arrested over the attacks on peaceful anti-government protesters at the Galle Face Green in Colombo on 09th May.
Wickremasinghe was appointed as Prime Minister.
Wickremasinghe, backed by the ruling party, is still intact and enjoying majority support in parliament. Mr Wickremasinghe has been criticised for being nominated for the premiership by Gotabaya Rajapaksa after Sujith Premadasa declined to accept the position unless under three conditions: one of them is Gothabaya Rajapaksa must resign.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa told opposition leader Sajith Premadasa that his offer to form a government under several conditions came too late, local media reported, citing a letter.
As Premadasa had rejected an earlier offer, Rajapaksa said he had decided to name Ranil Wickremesinghe as premier. Also, Premadasa had some conditions that hadn’t been agreed to by other party leaders. P.K.Balachandran from NewsIn Asia reports: Be that as it may, Wickremesinghe’s real challenge is not so much within parliament, but outside parliament, on the economic front.
The country’s forex reserves continue to be abysmally low – US$ 50 million, according to the Central Bank Governor Nandala Weerasinghe. But US$ 70 million is immediately required to offload a consignment of fuel which has arrived. Indian aid, now notching up to US$ 3.5 billion, is keeping the economy from sinking, but in three months, that flow will come to a halt. The promised Chinese aid of US$ 2.5 billion is yet to materialise due to some conditions
placed by Beijing, according to Sunday Times. Reportedly Sri Lanka immediately needs US$ 1 to billion.
According to the Governor of the Central Bank, the expected IMF facility will take six months to be extended. But once the Staff Level Agreement with the IMF is signed, the World Bank and the ADB will extend help, it is said. The World Bank has already given US$ 600 million.
Western countries have not even offered bilateral or multilateral help. As a Sri Lankan academic once out, the “Americans come with a bagful of advice, not money.” Japan is the only country from the Western camp which is likely to help because of its long-standing position as a leading donor. Even now, its loans to Sri Lanka are slightly more than China’s, accounting for 10.8% of the total Sri Lankan external debt of US$ 51 billion.
Wickremesinghe is keenly aware of the dire economic situation and has told the media that his first task will be to see the public get their basic needs, such as food and fuel. “I will see that every Sri Lankan has three meals a day,” he said.
The Opposition’s attempt to discuss the sign expressing displeasure over President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was blocked in Sri Lankan Parliament by the Government. The Government secured 119 votes, while the opposition obtained 68 votes.
Newly elected prime minister Ranil Wickremasinghe states that we must make the most of our historical ties to the Asian region.
According to a statement from his media units, the prime minister commenced discussions on forming a foreign consortium for financial assistance. The envoys of India and Japan pledged continued assistance to help stabilise the island nation’s economy and gather support from other foreign countries. The Chinese ambassador also assured the continuation and review of service, while Wickremesinghe had alluded to constitutional reforms promised by the
president in a meeting with the US envoy.
Stocks Surge on News of Political Stability Sri Lankan stocks surged for a second day as the appointment of the new prime minister was seen as a step toward political stability.
The Colombo All-Share Index jumped 4.4% and was the best performing key gauge in Asia on Friday. For the week, which saw only three days of trading, the indicator advanced 9%, its biggest weekly gain since January 2021, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Still, market participants remain cautious as the premier needs to build a cabinet of ministers and take steps to calm public anger. Low foreign exchange reserves, a potential delay in negotiations with IMF for financial aid and rising interest rates remain critical risks for market sentiment, as reported in Bloomberg.
The Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) parliamentary group has unanimously decided to fully support all progressive steps taken by the new government and development activities through parliamentary processes without accepting any posts.
“We are telling you that we will not take any portfolio in Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government,” said Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the general secretary of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya party.
Though political circles give many reasons for President’s decision to make Wickremesinghe Prime Minister, the most cited reason is that he has entered into a deal with Wickremesinghe to run the administration smoothly and successfully so that, at a suitable time, he will be given a safe exit from power and perhaps the country itself. It is said that the President had agreed to assist with the repeal of the 20 th. Amendment of 2020 had given him dictatorial
powers and substituted it with the 21 st. Amendment, which will be a new avatar of the 19 th.
An amendment under which the President would only be a figurehead and not a functioning Executive President. Gotabaya Rajapaksa had also told Wickremesinghe to take all decisions and promised to sign on the dotted line.
Will, the Pohottuwa government members support Ranil Wickremasinghe in parliament deliberations is yet to be seen.
With the political decks cleared or about to be removed, Wickremesinghe will be able to attend to the urgent task of ensuring a steady flow of foreign exchange. He would engage in intensive diplomacy with all major powers and international financial institutions to meet the basic needs of the much deprived and helpless people of Sri Lanka and put the derailed Lankan economy back on the rails. This news is from in NewsIn Asia.
The destiny and the people’s future are solely in the hands of Ranil Wickremasinghe. The ruling SLPP party has handed this 26th prime minister, and he is known as someone with international support to pull this country out of the economic problems faced by the people.
There are queues everywhere you go, and Ranil Wickremasinghe must end it. The country had no option because the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya and most opposition parties claimed his appointment was illegal. He was the most experienced prime minister able to steer a troubled country to stability and bring about the glory the people
enjoyed after Independence.
Some doubt whether he can restore political stability to a country wracked by civil unrest and gone into bankruptcy.
We have to wait and see what happens next, and the vision seems to be gloomy.
I hope you liked this video presentation. Stay safe, and let us all keep praying. Goodbye for now.
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