New Lankan PM inducts 4 ministers into Cabinet; Peiris retained as foreign minister

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Ranil Wickremesinghe inducted four ministers into his Cabinet on Saturday, including G L Peiris as the Foreign Minister, as the country’s new Prime Minister sought to complete the government formation to focus on efforts to rebuild the economy. Dinesh Gunawardena has been sworn in as the Minister of Public administration, Peiris as the Foreign Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga as the Minister of Urban Development and housing and Kanchana Wijesekara as the Minister of Power and Energy, the Daily Mirror, an online news portal reported.

Peiris was also the Foreign Minister in the former Mahinda Rajapaksa-led Cabinet.

The government sources said Wickremesinghe’s Cabinet is expected to be limited to under 20, the report said.

Sri Lanka’s ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party has decided to offer crucial support to Wickremesinghe, who has just one seat in Parliament, to help him prove a majority in the House.

Most of the opposition parties in Sri Lanka announced that they would not be joining the interim government led by Wickremesinghe.

The 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader was appointed 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.

He wrote a letter to main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa, inviting his party to support the joint effort made by them to immediately resolve the burning issues faced by the people and also to stabilise the country economically, politically and socially by obtaining foreign assistance.

Sri Lanka is facing the worst economic crisis in its post-independence history.

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has provoked widespread protests calling for political reform and the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The authorities have made numerous arrests and repeatedly imposed curfews. The political crisis was triggered in late March when people hurt by long hours of power cuts and essential shortages took to the streets demanding the resignation of the government.

President Rajapaksa sacked his Cabinet and appointed a younger cabinet as a response to the demand for resignation. A continuous protest opposite his secretariat has now gone on for well over a month.

On Monday, his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the prime minister to make way for the president to appoint an interim all political party government. Wickremesinghe was appointed the country’s new prime minister on Thursday.

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