Sri Lankan President Gotabaya names elder brother Mahinda as PM
Gotabaya will also need a national budget for 2020 by April with the current government having only approved an interim budget for the first three months of the year because of the impending election. Wickremesinghe's move clears the way for new t...
Wickremesinghe's move clears the way for new the President, elected on Saturday in a landslide, to appoint a replacement of his choice and a new government. Sources told ET from Colombo that if Mahinda Rajapaksa cannot prove his majority on floor of Parliament, an early election will be called in what will be win-win for Rajapaksa brothers. Sources indicated Lanka may try to make PM post powerful. ”It is a win-win situation for the Rajapaksa brothers,” a source said.
India will be closely monitoring developments in the neighbouring island nation whose stability is key for its security interests in the Indian Ocean.
When Gotabaya was sworn in as Sri Lanka's seventh president on Monday, he said he would form his own government. “I am the executive president of this country. I will not hesitate to use my executive power for the benefit of the country,” Rajapaksa said. “I will form a new government that can implement my policies.”
Last year, Lanka was plunged into crisis when then the president tried to remove Wickremasinghe and appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM.
Gotabaya faces certain legal barriers in appointing a government because of a 2015 constitutional amendment that curtails the powers of the presidency. The president can appoint or fire ministers only on the advice of the prime minister - whom the president has no power to remove.
Lankan parliamentary speaker's office said in a statement on Tuesday that lawmakers are discussing different options including a voluntary dissolution of Parliament with the support of two-thirds of its members or allowing Rajapaksa to appoint a caretaker government to function until March.
Gotabaya will also need a national budget for 2020 by April with the current government having only approved an interim budget for the first three months of the year because of the impending election. He is inheriting an economy adversely impacted by last April's Easter Sunday bomb attacks that killed 269 people.
The Lankan economy is expected to grow about 3% this year, according to the central bank, way below the 6% plus average of recent years and possibly the lowest in nearly 20 years.
Colombo also needs to make repayments on foreign debt of nearly $6 billion.
It also falls on Gotabaya to handle any international repercussions if he goes ahead with a campaign promise to withdraw from a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to investigate alleged wartime abuses.
Last Saturday's presidential election brought to fore continued ethnic divisions and minority fears, with Tamils and Muslims voting overwhelmingly against Gotabaya, who during the campaign appealed largely to majority Sinhala Buddhists deeply shaken by the Easter attacks that shattered a decade of peace. The new President called on minority groups to rally around him in his inaugural speech, but winning their confidence will be far from easy.