Written by Gulbin Sultana, PhD
Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (PM) by President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on 12 May 2022. Since the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on 9 May 2022 and the subsequent dissolution of the Cabinet, Sri Lanka has been left out. Government for three days. It is unfortunate that at a time when effective solutions are needed to overcome the country’s worst economic crisis, the political stalemate of forming an interim government since the first week of April is pushing the country towards anarchy. In this context, the decision of Ranil Wickremesinghe to accept the invitation of President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to become the Prime Minister and the formation of an interim government should have been immediately welcomed by the Sri Lankans. Unfortunately, major opposition political parties and religious leaders have expressed frustration over Ranil Wickremesinghe’s swearing in as Sri Lanka’s prime minister.
The President asked Ranil Wickremesinghe to get the support of all parties and form a consensus government. So far, media reports suggest that it will not be possible for it to form an all-party consensus government, even with the support of the 113 members needed to prove a majority in parliament. So the question is, will the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister end the ongoing political crisis or exacerbate it.
Former Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe is the sole representative of the United National Party (UNP) in the current parliament. The people of Sri Lanka voted for both Ranil and his party in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Despite his defeat in the election, Ranil Wickremesinghe was able to become a Member of Parliament as a candidate on the UNP’s national list under the provisions of the proportional representation system in Sri Lanka.
Since talks began in April this year to form an interim government led by a unanimous political leader, no one has once nominated Ranil Wickremesinghe as the preferred candidate to lead an interim government. Indeed, despite its critical stance on the Gotabaya administration’s response to the current economic crisis and its support for “Aragalaya” (such as “the whole Go home protest” is now commonly known), many believe that Ranil Wickremesinghe has struck a deal with Rajapaksa. . This belief became prominent after he supported the Rajapaksa government during the May 5, 2022 election for the new Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
Contrary to the main opposition parties, the Janata Bimukti Peramuna (JVP) led by Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the National People’s Power (NPP) did not insist on the resignation of the president as a precondition for the formation of an interim government in Ranil Wickremesinghe. When the President invited him to become the Prime Minister. Although, after being sworn in, Ronil said he could continue to “go to the whole house”, he did not demand the resignation of the president within a specified period after the formation of the interim government, contrary to the SJB’s revised terms. Since he was sworn in as prime minister before the president, it can be assumed that he agrees with Gotabayar’s plan to deal with the current political crisis, namely the formation of an interim government, bringing back 19 people.M If the situation is normal then amendment, abolition of executive presidency. These plans, outlined by the President in his May 11 address to the nation, do not address the main demand of the people, namely the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s unconditional acceptance of the President’s call for the formation of an interim government, ignoring the will of the people, has therefore been criticized by the main opposition political parties, religious leaders and the general public. The general public is also outraged that out of all the leaders, the president has chosen a leader to form an interim government whom the people rejected in the last election.
While the general public has a legitimate reason to express their displeasure at the appointment of Ronil as Prime Minister, the question to consider is whether it is in the best interest of the country to continue the stalemate and allow the country to function without a government. Since the President has refused to resign even after the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the dissolution of the cabinet, the most practical solution in the absence of a government is to unite all parties to form an interim government and start proceedings in Parliament against it. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and also to abolish the post of acting president. Unfortunately, the main opposition political parties are not indecisive and united in this regard.
Ronil Vikramasinghe, unconditionally taking over as Prime Minister, has undoubtedly sided with Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Nevertheless, he can still turn the table and use his position to advance the people’s agenda in Parliament. It remains to be seen how he presents himself in Parliament as the Prime Minister of the President or the Prime Minister of the people. In either case, he faces serious challenges.
The first challenge will be to prove his majority in Parliament. So far, the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) have pledged their support. If the SLPP is united, it will in all likelihood be able to prove its majority. But the big challenge will be to form an all-party consensus government. The SJB, JVP, a party of 11 independent parties led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) have decided not to participate in the interim government formed by Ranil Wickremesinghe. Even if Ranil Wickremesinghe manages to form a government which will be a coalition government of SLPP headed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa and not a consensus government. Therefore, the political crisis is more likely to continue even after the formation of the government under the leadership of Bikram Singh.
The delegation of people’s representatives held at Gall Face Green in Colombo handed over a joint declaration containing a list of eight demands to the newly appointed Prime Minister. The eight-point demand includes the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, an interim government limited to 15 ministers that remained for 18 months, canceling 20.M Corrections and new 21 broughtSt. Amendments, a relief budget and social safety net for vulnerable communities, audit of current elected officials, transparent monitoring of all crimes, ensuring right to life and fair and free elections. To meet these demands, he needs the support of the President, the support of the opposition political parties and his own political will to pay attention to the will of the people. Given the high level of confidence in the country, it is difficult to say for sure that the President will give him the freedom to act and that the opposition will give him full support in Parliament to meet the demands of the people. .
If he is able to tackle political challenges at home, some silver lining in the economic field can be expected to at least arrange bridge financing and finalize an agreement with the IMF, as the international community, including India, the United States and Japan, has agreed to work. After the swearing in of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister, the government was formed in accordance with the democratic process. India has reiterated its commitment to the people of Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, the main challenge for Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister will be to win the confidence of the people and the opposition parties. At a time when the country’s foreign reserves have fallen to 25 25 million, and when the country has to make tough economic decisions, the only precondition for Sri Lanka is to come out of the political stalemate by forming an all-party consensus government. Led by a leader who enjoys the confidence of the people. Although, in the current context, no political leader in Sri Lanka is trusted by the people, the President has decided to appoint the least trusted leader as the Prime Minister, thus making the task even more challenging for Ranil Wickremesinghe.
(Author Associate Fellow, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis. Published opinions do not reflect the official position or policy of Personal and Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited).