India said it is looking forward to working with the new government of Sri Lanka shortly after five-time former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was reappointed on Thursday in an effort to bring stability to the island nation, which is reeling under a political and economic crisis. India said its commitment to the people of Sri Lanka will continue.
Wickremesinghe took his oath in a ceremony at President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s residence. Protesters have blocked the entrance to the president’s office for more than a month.
“High Commission of India hopes for political stability and looks forward to working with the Government of Sri Lanka formed in accordance with democratic processes pursuant to the swearing in of Hon’ble @RW_UNP as the Prime Minister of #SriLanka,” the commission tweeted.
It added, “India’s commitment to the people of #SriLanka will continue.”
The 73-year-old will be tasked with navigating Sri Lanka through the worst economic downturn in its history as an independent nation, with months of shortages and blackouts inflaming public anger.
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“A cabinet is likely to be appointed tomorrow,” Sudewa Hettiarachchi, a spokesman for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, told news agency AFP.
In an address to the nation on Wednesday night, president Rajapaksa stopped short of yielding to weeks of countrywide protests calling for him to resign.
But in a bid to win over opposition lawmakers demanding he quit, Rajapaksa, 72, pledged to give up most of his executive powers and set up a new cabinet this week.
The developments come days after Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president’s brother, resigned as prime minister after his supporters attacked anti-government demonstrators who had been protesting peacefully for weeks.
This marked a turning point and unleashed several days of chaos and violence in which at least nine people were killed and over 200 injured, with dozens of Rajapaksa loyalist homes set on fire.
On Thursday, a court banned Mahinda, his politician son Namal, and more than a dozen allies from leaving the country after ordering an investigation into the violence.
“Congratulations to the newly appointed Prime Minister,” Mahinda tweeted from the Trincomalee naval base on the country’s east coast, where he took refuge after fleeing the capital Colombo.
“I wish you all the best as you navigate these troubled times.”