According to media reports on Saturday, Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has urged the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader to put party politics aside and join hands with him to form a non-partisan government to address the country’s pressing issues and stabilise the economy.
According to the Daily Mirror, the 73-year-old United National Party (UNP) leader, who was named as Sri Lanka’s 26th prime minister on Thursday, addressed a letter to SJB leader Sajith Premadasa.
Wickremesinghe asked the SJB to join them in their collaborative endeavour to settle the people’s burning concerns and to stabilise the country economically, politically, and socially by getting foreign help in the letter.
According to Hiru News, another online news outlet, he asked him to put party politics aside and build a non-partisan administration that goes beyond traditional politics.
The Prime Minister has also requested a good and prompt answer from the Opposition Leader, as the country’s future is becoming increasingly precarious.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its greatest economic crisis since independence.
Wickremesinghe’s letter to Premadasa came just days after the Opposition leader informed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa that the SJB would not be joining the government. Premadasa also questioned Gotabaya’s choice to appoint Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister while Wickremesinghe had stated readiness to serve as Prime Minister on certain terms, including the President’s resignation.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis has provoked widespread protests calling for political reform and the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
On April 1, President Rajapaksa imposed a state of emergency, lifting it five days later. The government reimposed a state of emergency on May 6 after police fired teargas and arrested students protesting near parliament, which was adjourned until May 17.
Although the protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful, the police fatally shot a protester on April 19, and on several occasions have used teargas and water cannons against protesters.