Resuming talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a rescue package will be the immediate task for Ranil Wickremesinghe who took over as the new President of Sri Lanka. Talks between Colombo and the IMF were stalled amid the political crisis.
The former prime minister, a seasoned politician but also considered a close ally of the Rajapaksas, will find the going tougher amid the economic collapse. Citizens, hit by acute shortage of food and fuel, are not happy and continued to protest as they chanted “Go back Ranil.”
Amid the crisis, former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country last week. Wickremesinghe is widely seen as a proxy of the once powerful Rajapaksa family, but he denied that he was friends with them.
"I am not a friend of the Rajapaksas…. "I am a friend of the people," Wickremesinghe, who has held the position of PM six times, told reporters.
BBC in a report said that the new president “is viewed by many as a shrewd political operator who's managed to cling on in parliament despite his party being wiped out in the 2020 election. It failed to win a single constituency, and its only seat – for which he nominated himself – was awarded under the party list system reflecting overall votes polled.
Wickremesinghe warned that strict action will be taken against those resorting to violence through undemocratic means.
Six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said he will not bow to violence after winning a parliamentary vote to succeed Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country and resigned last week.
"If you try to topple the government, occupy the president's office and the prime minister's office, that is not democracy, it is against the law," Wickremesinghe said on Wednesday, a day before taking oath as president.
Meanwhile, India has promised to continue its support to Sri Lanka. Earlier, the country's central bank said that this year the economy could contract by more than 6 per cent.