Sri Lanka appoints new prime minister as civil unrest worsens amid economic crisis – National

Sri Lanka named a new prime minister on Thursday, a move President Gotabaya Rajapaksa hopes will end weeks of worsening civil unrest in which at least nine people have died this week and more than 300 have been injured.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, a political veteran who served as the island nation’s prime minister five times before, faces the daunting task of leading his country through its worst economic crisis since independence.

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Economic mismanagement, the COVID-19 pandemic and rising energy costs following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have drained state coffers, meaning Sri Lanka lacks fuel and essential medicines and faces daily power outages.

Rajapaksa, whose older brother Wickremesinghe replaced as prime minister, called for nationwide curfews and gave security forces sweeping powers to shoot anyone involved in looting or killing people in danger.

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Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned on Monday, hid at a naval base and the president warned of the risk of total anarchy.

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister resigns over country’s economic crisis

Sri Lankan Prime Minister resigns over country’s economic crisis

Ordinary people are increasingly frustrated with disruptions to normal life.

“We’ve hit rock bottom economically,” said Nimal Jayantha, a rickshaw driver queuing for gas earlier Thursday after the curfew was lifted.

“I don’t have time to do my job. As long as I stay in the fuel queue and get gas, the curfew will be imposed. I will have to go home with no money.

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Sri Lankan PM resigns after weeks of protests over economic crisis

As well as facing mass protests, Wickremesinghe must unite a fractured parliament to agree a way out of a crisis that has seen inflation soar and foreign exchange reserves dwindle.

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“He said from the start that parliament had to meet to find a solution to the crisis,” Dinouk Colombage, media secretary for Wickremesinghe’s opposition United National Party, told Reuters.

“He’s no stranger to handling economic and political challenges, having done so many times before.”

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