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Veteran lawmaker Wickremesinghe sworn in as new Sri Lanka prime minister

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Longtime lawmaker Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa who had pledged to form a new government to end political instability while defying calls to step down for his role in the crisis.

His appointment came after opposition leader Sajith Premadasa had written to the president to say he is willing to lead an interim government under certain conditions.

Wickremesinghe, the 73-year-old leader of United National Party (UNP), was appointed prime minister after he held closed-door talks with Rajapaksa on Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe, who has served as the country’s prime minister for four times, was in October 2018 fired from the post by then President Maithripala Sirisena. However, he was reinstalled as the prime minister by Sirisena after two months.

Members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a section of the main Opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and several other parties have expressed their support to show majority for Wickremesinghe in Parliament, PTI reported quoting sources.

The UNP, the oldest party in the country, had failed to win a single seat from districts, including Wickremesinghe who contested from the UNP stronghold Colombo in 2020 parliamentary polls.

Wickremesinghe is widely accepted as a man who could manage the economy with far-sighted policies, and is perceived as the Sri Lankan politician who could command international cooperation.

A magistrate has barred 13 members of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, including his brother and former premier Mahinda Rajapaksa, from traveling overseas, Bloomberg reported quoting local media said.

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