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Sri Lanka president calls for unity government to save economy

Sri Lanka’s new president Ranil Wickremesinghe has formally invited parliamentarians to join an all-party unity government to revive its bankrupt economy by implementing painful reforms, his office said Sunday. said to

Wickremesinghe took office earlier this month after public outrage over the island nation’s worst economic crisis forced his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to flee the country.

At a meeting Saturday with influential monks at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, one of Buddhism’s most sacred shrines, Wickremesinghe outlined his plans.

“As president, I want to start a new journey,” Wickremesinghe was quoted as telling monks during his first meeting with the powerful Buddhist clergy after taking office.

“I want to mobilize all the parties to walk that path and establish an all-party government.”

He sent a letter to all members of parliament asking them to join the unified government.

Former opposition parliamentarian Wickremesinghe, 73, was sworn in as prime minister for the sixth time in May after Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda stepped down, leaving him with no other successor.

Wickremesinghe became president after Gotabaya fled on July 9, when tens of thousands of protesters angry over the economic crisis stormed the presidential palace.

He fled to Singapore where he resigned five days later and Wickremesinghe became interim president, subsequently winning votes confirming his promotion in parliament.

Sri Lanka’s 22 million people have endured months of prolonged power outages, record inflation and shortages of food, fuel and medicine.

Since late last year, the country has run out of foreign currency to finance even its most important imports.

In April, Sri Lanka defaulted on $51 billion of external debt and began bailout negotiations with the International Monetary Fund.

Wickremesinghe told the monks that the economy will contract further this year, shrinking by 7.0%, but expects a recovery next year.

“I am working to stabilize this economy again and build it so that the country can develop by 2023, 2024.

“It’s a difficult task. But if we don’t do it now, it will be even harder. We should give medicine and try to cure the patient, or let the patient die without giving medicine,” he said. added. .

He said inflation, currently hovering at 60.8%, could rise further.

After being elected president, Wickremesinghe appointed a caretaker cabinet, leaving the door open for others to join in, while ordering security forces to clear the scene of protests.

He is expected to convene a new session of parliament from Wednesday and expand the 18-member cabinet to accommodate members from the opposition.

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/721965/Sri-Lanka-president-seeks-unity-government-to-save Sri Lanka president calls for unity government to save economy

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