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World Sri Lanka president seeks unity government to save economy

11:01  31 july  2022
11:01  31 july  2022 Source:   afp.com

Sri Lanka’s new president is already cracking down on protests

  Sri Lanka’s new president is already cracking down on protests President Wickremesinghe is an ally of the president who protesters just forced out.Gotabaya appointed Wickremesinghe prime minister in May after his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the post during the protests. Now, Wickremesinghe — who served as prime minister five previous times and was also finance minister during his most recent term — will serve as president until the country holds a popular vote in 2024.

Sri Lanka's new president Ranil Wickremesinghe has formally invited MPs to join an all-party unity government to revive the bankrupt economy by undertaking painful reforms, his office said Sunday.

Sri Lanka's new president Ranil Wickremesinghe has written to all lawmakers asking them to join a unity government © Arun SANKAR Sri Lanka's new president Ranil Wickremesinghe has written to all lawmakers asking them to join a unity government The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy is one of Buddhism's most sacred shrines © Ishara S. KODIKARA The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy is one of Buddhism's most sacred shrines

Wickremesinghe took office earlier this month after public anger over the island nation's worst economic crisis forced his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and quit.

Shortages leave bankrupt Sri Lanka's hospitals empty

  Shortages leave bankrupt Sri Lanka's hospitals empty Entire wards are dark and nearly empty in Sri Lanka's largest hospital, its few remaining patients leaving untreated and still in pain, and doctors prevented from even arriving for their shifts. An unprecedented economic crisis has dealt a body blow to a free and universal healthcare system that just months earlier was the envy of the country's South Asian neighbours. Suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure that inflamed her joints, Theresa Mary travelled to the capital Colombo for treatment at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka.

In a meeting Saturday with the influential monks of the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, one of Buddhism's most sacred shrines, Wickremesinghe outlined his plans.

"As the president, I wish to start a new journey," Wickremesinghe was quoted as telling the monks in his first meeting with the powerful Buddhist clergy since taking office.

"I would like to get all the parties together and go on that journey as well as to form an all-party government."

He has written to all lawmakers asking them to join a unity government.

A former opposition MP, Wickremesinghe, 73, took up the premiership for the sixth time in May after Rajapaksa's elder brother Mahinda resigned and there were no other takers for the job.

Wickremesinghe went onto become the president after Gotabaya escaped on July 9 when tens of thousands of protesters angry at the economic crisis stormed the presidential palace.

Sri Lanka-Ranil Wickremesinghe, unhappy president

 Sri Lanka-Ranil Wickremesinghe, unhappy president © Arun Sankar / AFP "N OS Divisions are now finished," he claimed as soon as the Parliament ballot gave him the victory on Wednesday, July 20 . At 73, Ranil Wickremesinghe, elegant costumes and ash hair, would be the president of stability in an island in economic perdition.

He fled to Singapore from where he resigned five days later and Wickremesinghe became interim president and later won a vote in parliament confirming his ascension.

Sri Lanka's 22 million people have endured months of lengthy blackouts, record inflation and shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

Since late last year, the country has run out of foreign exchange to finance even the most essential imports.

In April, Sri Lanka defaulted on its $51 billion foreign debt and opened bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund.

Wickremesinghe told monks that the economy would decline further this year with a contraction of 7.0 percent, but expected a recovery next year.

"I am working to re-stabilise this economy and build the economy in such a way that the country can be developed by 2023, 2024.

"It is a difficult task. But if you don't do it now, it will be more difficult. We should think about whether we should try to cure the patient by giving medicine or let the patient die without giving medicine," he added.

He said inflation currently running at 60.8 percent could go up further.

After his election as president, Wickremesinghe, while ordering security forces to clear protest sites, has appointed an interim cabinet leaving the door open for others to join.

He has called a new session of parliament from Wednesday and is expected to expand the 18-member cabinet to accommodate members from opposition parties.

aj/stu/mtp

Sri Lanka: The police are dislodging manu militari demonstrators, the international community worries .
hundreds of Srulanki soldiers and police officers dismantled the main camp of opponents of the government in Colombo, the country's capital. © supplied by Franceinfo The Srilankian police resumed on Friday July 22, in Colombo on Friday, July 22, the last Public Building still occupied by anti -government demonstrators , during a violent assault that worries the international community.

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