Sri Lanka -current news – by Dr Harold Gunatillake
New PM starts talks on Foreign Consortium for Financial Assistance
• PM holds preliminary talks with foreign envoys representing India, Japan, United
States of America and China
• The Indian and Japanese envoys discussed the measures being taken to gather support from other foreign nations to help Sri Lanka’s economy
Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, has secured the support of key countries in the world such as India, the US, Japan and China. He is expected to get majority support in parliament also, though he is the lone representative of his party, the United National Party, in parliament.
Wickremesinghe might not head a truly “national” government composed of all parties inparliament. But he might get the support of enough MPs to have a majority, that is, at least 113 in the House of 225.
World’s Interest in Stability The countries supporting Wickremesinghe have based their policy on the critical requirement of stability, as the statements put out by their envoys show.
The Indian High Commission said in its tweet, that “India hopes for political stability and looks forward to working with the Government of Sri Lanka formed in accordance with democratic processes pursuant to the swearing-in of Hon’ble Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.” It further said that “India’s commitment to the people of Sri Lanka will continue.”
In its first reaction to the situation in Sri Lanka after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as Prime Minister, India on Tuesday said that it was “fully supportive” of the island nation’s democracy, stability and economic recovery. “India will always be guided by the best interests of the people of Sri Lanka expressed through democratic processes,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi.
“In keeping with our Neighborhood First policy, India has extended this year alone, support worth over USD 3.5 billion to the people of Sri Lanka for helping them overcome their current difficulties. In addition, the people of India have provided assistance for mitigating the shortages of essential items such as food and medicine,” Bagchi added.
The Indian High Commissioner, Gopal Baglay, followed this up with a meeting with Wickremesinghe in the latter’s office on Friday. He presented the PM with a bouquet.
Discussions with the Indian High Commissioner focused on the measures being taken for economic recovery, while the High Commissioner promised to continue to assist Sri Lanka.
Later, asked by newsmen about Sri Lanka’s relations with India, its closest neighbour, Wickremesinghe said: “It will become much better.” During his previous stints as PM, Wickremesinghe visited India on four occasions – in October 2016, April 2017, November 2017 and October 2018.
Asked about his agenda as the Prime Minister, Wickremesinghe said: “I have taken on a challenge of uplifting the economy and I must fulfil it.” Setting the economy right by meeting the forex shortage and getting the population essential goods, is his single-point agenda. And for that, political stability in the form of parliament’s support is needed.
Problems in Parliament
While Wickremesinghe has strong support from the four most important countries in its foreign relations, he is yet to fathom the level of support in parliament. He has to face parliament on May 17, when the opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa, will be bringing in a Motion of No Confidence against his government, and also President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
As of now, the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) is with Wickremesinghe as per the wishes of President Rajapaksa and the rest of the Rajapaksa clan. The 41 MPs from the SLPP and its allies, who had rebelled and are sitting as Independents, are expected to act independently but without the objective of toppling the government.
The group’s spokesman, Wimal Weerawansa, stated that it has no intention of sabotaging the administration. It will not indulge in “hate politics” and will not allow the country to become “anarchic”, he said. The Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) leader Udaya Gammanpila stated that as long as PM Ranil Wickremesinghe works to “rescue the country from the abyss” the Independents would extend support while remaining in the opposition. “This country needs a government. We will not make any attempt to topple it,” the former Energy minister said.
The Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), a former ally of the SLPP, has decided not to accept any portfolios or be part of a government under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. It will decide on its stand vis-s-vis the SJB’s No Confidence Motion later on Friday after internal consultations.
The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) are antigovernment and are likely to vote for the No-Confidence Motion But they are small parties. The JVP has only three MPs and the TNA 10.
The Japanese envoy MIZUKOSHI Hideaki also pledged their continued support towards the stabilisation of Sri Lanka’s economy..
Both envoys discussed the measures being taken to gather support from other foreign nations to help Sri Lanka’s economy.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe discussed the upcoming visit of the U.S. treasury team with the U.S. Ambassador. The meeting also broached the subject of the 19th Amendment and the strengthening of the oversight committees in Parliament.
The Chinese Ambassador, when meeting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, expressed his country’s willingness to continue to support Sri Lanka while also pledging to review existing assistance provided to the country.
The Prime Minister also spoke to the British High Commissioner Sarah Hulton prior to her departure to the U.K. She was scheduled to brief the British Government on the situation in Sri Lanka.
Leave aside party politics and let’s join hands to resolve burning issues – RW writes to Sajith In a letter to the Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa, the Prime Minister invited the SJB to support the joint effort made by them to immediately resolve the burning issues faced by the people and also to stabilize the country economically, and politically and socially by obtaining foreign assistance.
The Prime Minister has also sought the Opposition Leader’s positive and swift response as the future of the country was facing a serious situation day by day.
The Resident Representative of the United Nations in Sri Lanka, Hanaa Singer-Hamdy states that the United Nations hopes for greater political stability in the coming weeks as the new Government commences work. United Nations cooperation at a technical
level will continue to support Sri Lanka’s recovery, she adds.
#Sri_Lanka received the first donation of medicines and supplies worth $1.6M thanks to
#Indonesia for the prompt effort to support immediate needs. WHO is coordinating assistance
to keep Sri Lanka’s health system functional and sustain its notable health achievements
With a stable government formed under the leadership of Ranil Wickremasinghe with his friendship and cordiality with most nations, and being premier four times before the consensus is the most suitable candidate for the post to pull out of the doldrums the nation is in.
President Gothabaya has learnt from his mistakes in the past, and the voices of the people’s ‘Go Home Gota’ will reverberate even in his dreams, and hopefully his administration as President will impact for the good of the country
As I said all the time positively, I could see the light at the end of the tunnel for a hopeful better Sri Lanka to live in.
Stay safe and goodbye for now.
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