Sunday, June 4, 2023

Sri Lankan parties agree to form all-party interim govt

Sri Lanka’s Opposition parties on Sunday decided to form an all-party interim government after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe agreed to resign in the wake of unprecedented street protests during which both leaders’ houses were stormed by irate protesters over the government’s mishandling of the nation’s worst economic crisis.
Opposition parties on Sunday held talks to seek ways to steer the country forward amidst the unprecedented economic crisis after President Rajapaksa on Saturday informed Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena from an undisclosed location that he will step down on Wednesday.
“We agreed in principle to form a government of unity with all parties’ participation for an interim period,” Wimal Weerawansa of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party’s breakaway group said.
“This will be a government where all parties are represented,” he said.
Vasudeva Nanayakkara, another leader of the SLPP’s breakaway group, said they need not wait for Rajapaksa’s resignation on July 13.
Rajapaksa, 73, appears to have gone underground in the face of massive public anger over the unprecedented economic crisis.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also offered to resign.
The main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya party said they held extensive internal discussions.
“We aim for an interim government of all parties for a limited period and then go for a parliamentary election,” said Ranjith Madduma Bandara, the SJB general secretary.
The leaders of political parties represented in Parliament are to meet on Monday afternoon to discuss the convening of the House for the transition of power for a new government after Rajapaksa said he will resign.
The protesters are also demanding the resignation of prime minister Wickremesinghe. The resignation of both the president and prime minister would mean that Speaker Abeywardena would become the acting president.

Missing Rajapaksa orders gas distribution

Embattled President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose location is still unknown since the protesters overran both his office and the official residence, has ordered officials to ensure the smooth distribution of cooking gas after the fuel-starved country received 3,700 metric tonnes of LP gas, his office said on Sunday.
In recent months people have been blocking roads across the country in a desperate bid to force the government to address the issue of acute gas shortages.
President Rajapaksa has instructed the officers to carry out the unloading and distribution of gas as the first ship arrives at Kerawalapitiya this afternoon.


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