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Lankan PM Wickremesinghe moots ‘aid consortium’ with foreign envoys

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Vows to “deliver solutions” to the island’s deepening economic crisis

Sri Lanka’s newly appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has vowed to “deliver solutions” to the island’s deepening economic crisis, kicked off duties on Friday, discussing formation of a “foreign aid consortium” with Colomb-based envoys, his office said.

His outreach came a day after he was sworn in Premier by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, in the place of Mahinda Rajapaksa, who resigned earlier this week following widespread protests.

Indian envoy Gopal Baglay was among the first to meet Wickremesinghe shortly after he assumed charge Friday morning. “High Commissioner called on Hon’ble PM [Ranil Wickremesinghe] @RW_UNP. Conveyed greetings and good wishes. Discussed continued cooperation for economic recovery and stability in #SriLanka through democratic processes towards the wellbeing of all the people of Sri Lanka,” the Indian Mission said in a tweet. India has extended assistance totalling $3.5 billion this year to help Sri Lanka cope with its severe dollar crunch.

The PM, who is in office for the sixth time, also met the Ambassadors of China, USnited States, Japan, and the British High Commissioner. “The Chinese Ambassador expressed his country’s willingness to continue to support Sri Lanka while also pledging to review existing assistance,” his office said in a statement.

‘Little political support’

Wickremesinghe has few backers other than the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna. Opposition parties have said they will not be part of a government led by him and Gotabaya, while government allies seem hesitant to take up ministerial positions. The PM has no parliamentary colleagues from the United National Party he leads, he is its sole legislator. It remains to be seen if Wickremsinghe can prove he has the confidence of the House when the Parliament convenes on May 17. The country also awaits a new cabinet and government to run its affairs at a critical time.

Meera Srinivasan is The Hindu Correspondent in Colombo.

Published on May 13, 2022

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