The appointment of a new prime minister in Sri Lanka has failed to appease anti-government protesters demanding the resignation of the president for the country’s disastrous economic crisis.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed veteran opposition politician Ranil Wickremesinghe as the island nation’s prime minister late on Thursday after a week of violent clashes in which nine people were killed and more than 300 injured.
The president’s elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, quit as prime minister on Monday as the violence spiralled and is in hiding in a military base.
Huge public demonstrations have for weeks condemned President Rajapaksa over his administration’s mismanagement of the worst economic crisis to hit the nation since it became independent in 1948.
“Whoever they appoint as prime minister, we will not stop this struggle until people get relief.”
Wickremesinghe is the only legislator from his United National Party (UNP) in the country’s parliament and will be reliant on rival political parties to form a government.
An alliance led by the Rajapaksas holds about 100 of parliament’s 225 seats, while the opposition has 58 seats. The rest are independent.
Wickremesinghe was struggling on Friday to forge a unity government and forestall an imminent economic collapse after a senior opposition figure refused to helm the finance ministry.
Opposition legislator 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.