Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has promised peace and order in the country in his first statements after being sworn in Friday as interim president and guide to quell the devastating economic crisis rocking the country that culminated in last weekend’s popular uprising.
The new acting president has commented that while he fully accepts the right to peaceful protests, “others are now trying to sabotage these protests.”
“There are groups that are trying to set the country on fire through fascist methods by repressing democracy,” he has stated before accusing protesters, at specific moments, of attacking security forces and the Police.
Wickremesinghe takes office after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned on Thursday after fleeing the country in the midst of massive popular mobilizations against the authorities for the very serious economic crisis that the island is going through.
The also prime minister has taken office in an act before the president of the Supreme Court, Jayantha Jayasuriya, after Rajapaksa himself appointed him as interim president after fleeing the country to the Maldives, from where he went to Singapore on Thursday, according to the Sri Lankan newspaper ‘Daily Mirror’.
The prime minister has assured during the last days that he will resign once an inclusive government is formed after Rajapaksa’s resignation, although the demonstrators, who have been mobilizing for weeks to protest against the economic crisis and the worsening quality of life, have also demanded Wickremesinghe’s resignation.
For his part, the Speaker of Parliament, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, has confirmed that the new president will be elected on July 20 by the legislative body, a date previously chosen by the leaders of the political parties with representation. Yapa Abeywardena himself confirmed early Friday that Rajapaksa’s letter of resignation has been received by the authorities, which implies his resignation effective July 14.
Rajapaksa thus gives in after several months of protests over rising prices, lack of food, medicine and fuel, which has put the small Asian island in front of its worst economic crisis since it gained independence from the British colonial yoke.
The popular revolution in Sri Lanka has thus forced the definitive fall of the Rajapaksa family, after Gotabaya forced his brother Mahinda to step down as prime minister in early May in a superfluous attempt to quell the protests.