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Sri Lanka: Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn in as President

Sri Lanka: Ranil Wickremesinghe Sworn in as President
folder_openAsia-Pacific... access_time4 months ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Sri Lanka's six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as president Thursday, with officials saying he would set up an all-party unity Cabinet to confront the country's economic crisis.

Wickremesinghe, 73, who was elected by legislators on Wednesday, took his oath of office before chief justice Jayantha Jayasuriya at the tightly-guarded Parliament complex, a statement from his office said.

Meanwhile, the country’s police chief and top military brass stood behind the new president as the oath was administered in the presence of parliamentary speaker Mahinda Abeywardana.

The brief ceremony was due to be broadcast live on local television but was inexplicably cut off just before the swearing-in got under way.

Officials said an investigation into the unexpected breakdown had been launched.

Wickremesinghe will lead the country for the balance of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's term after the deposed president fled to Singapore and resigned last week.

Political sources said Wickremesinghe will invite all political parties to join a Cabinet of 30 ministers to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since independence from Britain in 1948.

Former public administration minister Dinesh Gunawardena, a schoolmate of Wickremesinghe, is tipped to become prime minister.

Protesters who stormed Rajapaksa's palace and toppled him earlier this month have accused Wickremesinghe of being a proxy of the once-powerful family.

"I am not a friend of the Rajapaksas," he told reporters at the Gangaramaya temple. "I am a friend of the people."

Sri Lanka is suffering lengthy power blackouts and the country’s 22 million have been enduring shortages of fuel, food and medicines for months.

Public anger over the hardships boiled over when tens of thousands of protesters stormed the home of then-president Rajapaksa, forcing him to step down and clearing the way for Wickremesinghe’s election.