Colombo, Sri Lanka ( Associated Press) – Sri Lanka’s president on Saturday sworn in four new cabinet ministers in an effort to ensure stability until a full-fledged cabinet is formed in the island nation beset by a political and economic crisis.
The appointment of the four ministers comes two days after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa reappointed former five-time Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.Mahinda Rajapaksa, the brother of his predecessor, resigned on Monday following violent attacks. by his supporters on peaceful anti-government protesters.
His resignation automatically dissolved the cabinet, leaving an administrative void.
In a move to bring back stability, President Rajapaksa reappointed Wickremesinghe on Thursday and sworn in four cabinet ministers on Saturday until a full cabinet is appointed.
Rajapaksa administered the oath to the ministers of foreign affairs, public administration and home affairs, urban development and power and energy, a statement from the presidential office said on Saturday.
The four ministers belong to the President’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party. The new prime minister belongs to the United National Party.
Rajapaksa called for a unity government in early April, but the proposal was quickly rejected by the largest opposition political party, the United People’s Force, or SJB.,
The Indian Ocean island nation is on the verge of bankruptcy and has postponed the repayment of its foreign debts to negotiate a rescue package with the International Monetary Fund.
It needs to repay $7 billion in foreign debt this year out of $25 billion by 2026. Its total external debt is $51 billion. The Finance Ministry says that the country currently has only $25 million of usable foreign reserves.
For several months, Sri Lankans have faced long lines to buy fuel, cooking gas, food and medicine, most of them from abroad. Hard currency crunch has also hampered imports of raw materials for manufacturing and worsened inflation, which rose to 18.7% in March.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis This has brought a political crisis, with the government facing widespread protests for several weeks.
Authorities deployed armored vehicles and troops on the capital’s streets on Wednesday after attacks on protesters sparked a wave of violence across the country. Nine people died and more than 200 were injured.
Security forces have been ordered to shoot people They are understood to have participated in the violence in the form of sporadic acts of arson and sabotage, despite a strict nationwide curfew that began on Monday evening.
The protesters had demanded the resignation of the Rajapaksa brothers due to the debt crisis, which has almost bankrupted the country and caused severe shortages of fuel, food and other essentials.
So far, President Rajapaksa has resisted calls for his resignation.