Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in President of Sri Lanka on Thursday, is expected to appoint long-time Rajapaksa loyalist and senior politician Dinesh Gunawardena as Prime Minister, a source close to the President’s office told The Hindu.
Further, Mr. Wickremesinghe will continue with the last-appointed Cabinet until Opposition parties are “ready to cooperate” in an all-party government, the source said, requesting anonymity.
President Wickremesinghe, who faces fierce public criticism for joining the discredited Rajapaksa government earlier, has invited all parties to join his government to combat the national economic crisis, which set off political upheaval and led to changes at the island nation’s helm. Opposition parties are yet to signal their willingness.
Following a party leaders’ meeting on Thursday, Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said in a tweet: “Met with President @RW_UNP [Ranil Wickremesinghe] at the party leaders’ meeting today. Had a cordial and frank exchange of ideas. Reiterated the opposition’s determination to provide constructive support to avert misery and disaster.”
Mr. Premadasa said he proposed to strengthen the committee system in Parliament to achieve national consensus “rather than dishing out ministerial portfolios to political opportunists resulting in a drain of scarce national resources.”
Mr. Wickremesinghe, who served as Prime Minister — his sixth stint in the office — since May and Acting President more recently, rose to Presidencyafter winning a key parliamentary vote on Wednesday, following mass protests that ousted Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the country’s highest office last week. The deposed leader fled the country and is now said to be in Singapore.