Colombo, Apr 29 (EFE).- Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Friday repeated his call for the formation of a national unity government with the representation of all parties to find a solution to the crippling economic crisis, the same day that a leading lawmaker said that the current prime minister and brother of the leader will leave the post.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has extended an invitation to form a unitary government comprising all political parties represented in Parliament,” the president’s communications office said in a statement.
The request, similar to the one made earlier this month following the mass resignation of his Cabinet of ministers, came after a meeting with political leaders who largely supported Rajapaksa but are now “operating independently in Parliament,” according to the note.
Former president and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) leader Maithripala Sirisena said after the meeting that the president agreed to appoint a new prime minister.
“The negotiations were successful. The president agreed to form a new interim government under a new prime minister and a new Cabinet,” Sirisena told a press conference, meaning that Rajapaksa has agreed to replace his brother and former president Mahinda, the current PM.
The statement from the presidential office, however, does not mention the possible change of prime minister.
The main opposition party, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) announced Thursday that it will only support a unity government if the president resigns.
Last week, Rajapaksa formed a new 17-member cabinet that excluded all members of his family except Mahinda.
The island nation is facing an unprecedented economic crisis caused, in part, by its heavy indebtedness, economic recession during the pandemic and a drastic drop in tourism activity.
Lacking sufficient foreign currency to purchase food, fuel and basic necessities, Sri Lanka entered an inflationary and shortage spiral months ago. Last week, the government announced the temporary suspension of its foreign debt payments.
The situation has led to shortages of basic goods such as fuel, basic necessities and essential medicines.
The island nation is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a $4 billion loan to address the ongoing economic crisis, which has generated a wave of protests against the Rajapaksa brothers that began at the end of March and are still ongoing throughout the country, particularly in front of the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo, where the demonstrators have set up a protest camp. EFE
Amid resignation protest, Sri Lanka president invites to form all-party government
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who faces heavy criticism for his economic mismanagement, invited all the political parties to form a new all-party government, his office said on Friday, as he attempted to find a way out to face intensifying protests demanding his ouster.
The move comes as Rajapaksa has not emerged from his official residence since early this month as thousands of people protested outside the presidential secretariat for the 21st straight day demanding his resignation. Protests have also started near the official residence of Rajapaksa’s older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The President held a meeting with some of the small parties on Friday without the key opposition parties to find a way out from the current political crisis that has emerged after his ruling party-led cabinet resigned amid the protests after Rajapaksa government failed to ensure supplies of essentials including medicines, food, and fuel.
“President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has extended an invitation to form an all-party government
comprising all political parties represented in the Parliament,” his office said in a statement.