Sri Lanka’s opposition parties set to meet to discuss formation of new all-party government
Sri Lanka’s main Opposition parties are expected to hold a special party meeting on Sunday to forge consensus on establishing an all-party government amid the unprecedented political turmoil as President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe offered to resign after protesters occupied their homes protesting over the mishandling the economy.
The meeting of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and its constituent parties will be attended by leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa, leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Rauff Hakeem, leader of Tamil Progressive Alliance Mano Ganesan and leader of All Ceylon Makkal Congress Rishad Bathiudeen, News First portal reported.
Another meeting of the leaders of nine parties, including the National Freedom Front, was planned for Sunday to discuss the emerging political situation.
Vice President of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka Weerasumana Weerasinghe said that there will be a lengthy discussion about the all-party government.
The Speaker would become the acting President in the absence of both the President and the Prime Minister. Later, an election among MPs must happen to elect a new President. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe whose private house suffered an extensive arson attack last night remains in position despite calls to quit.
In a statement Saturday night, Wickremesinghe, who has expressed his willingness to resign, said “this country is gripped with fuel and food shortages. There will be an important visit scheduled by the WFP next week while crucial talks have to be continued with the IMF. So if the current government is to quit it must be replaced by the next .” Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena had asked President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe to resign immediately to make way for an all-party government after the country witnessed its biggest protest yet amid an unprecedented economic crisis.
In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s elder brother and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had to quit in the face of massive anti-government protests.
The Rajapaksa brothers, Mahinda and Gotabaya, were hailed by many in Sri Lanka as heroes for winning the civil war against the LTTE but they are now blamed for the country’s worst economic crisis.
The expected exit of President Rajapaksa on Wednesday and the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister in May is a dramatic fall from grace for a powerful family that has dominated Sri Lankan politics for more than a decade.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, crippled by an acute shortage of foreign exchange that has left it struggling to pay for essential imports of fuel, and other essentials.
The country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka’s total foreign debt stands at USD 51 billion.