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Sri Lanka Crisis

Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the sixth time

Published : May 12, 2022 20:00 IST T+T-
Ranil Wickremesinghe (left) being sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister by President Gotabaya Rajapakse in Colombo on May 12.

Ranil Wickremesinghe (left) being sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister by President Gotabaya Rajapakse in Colombo on May 12.

In what can only be described as the greatest ever political comeback in South Asia, a person who was rejected by the people and was literally in the political wilderness is back in power because of a strange set of circumstances.

Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (73), who lost in Colombo in the 2020 Parliamentary elections and whose United National Party (UNP) could not win even a single seat in that election, was sworn in Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the sixth time.

Ranil Wickremesinghe made it to the Parliament via the national list (on the basis of votes won in the election). He is the only UNP member in Parliament and has been an M.P. for 43 years. In what can only be described as the greatest ever political comeback in South Asia, a person who was rejected by the people and was literally in the political wilderness is back in power because of a strange set of circumstances.

They include the reluctance of Sajith Premadasa, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, to take oath without President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigning first, and a similar stand taken by Sarath Fonseka, the hero of the war against LTTE Tamil militants.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) alleged that the Rajapaksas were installing Ranil Wickremesinghe so that they could save themselves.

Gehan Gunatilleke, the noted lawyer and political commentater, said: “While we applaud deft political maneuvering and the coddling of a leader who refuses to resign... let’s remember one thing: A solution that facilitates the political survival of the current President is a betrayal of the people’s struggle.”

The United States welcomed the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister almost immediately. Julie Chung, the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, tweeted: “Look forward to working w/ @RW_UNP. His appointment as PM, and the quick formation of an inclusive government, are first steps to addressing the crisis & promoting stability. We encourage meaningful progress at the IMF & long-term solutions that meet the needs of all Sri Lankans.”

M.K. Sivajiligam, Sri Lankan Tamil leader and 2019 presidential candidate, said that this move was like “changing pillows because one has a headache”. He warned that India considered Ranil Wickremesinghe as a friend. “But remember, this is the person who has done so much to align Sri Lanka with China. He is worse for India than the Rajapaksas,” he said.