Sri Lanka’s new prime minister was struggling Friday to forge a unity government and forestall an imminent economic collapse after a senior opposition figure refused to helm the finance ministry.
Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in late on Thursday to navigate his country through the worst downturn in its history as an independent nation, with months of shortages and blackouts inflaming public anger.
The 73-year-old insists he has enough support to govern and has approached several potential allies to join his administration.
But frontline opposition lawmaker Harsha de Silva publicly rejected an overture to take charge of the nation’s finances and said he would instead push for the government’s resignation. “People are not asking for political games and deals, they want a new system that will safeguard their future,” he said in a statement.
De Silva said he was joining “the people’s struggle” to topple President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and would not support any political settlement that left the leader in place.
He is a member of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party, the largest opposition grouping in parliament, which has split on whether to support a unity government without Rajapaksa’s resignation.
Huge public demonstrations have for weeks condemned Rajapaksa over his administration’s mismanagement of the crisis.- Agencies