Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Wednesday said that he will appoint a new prime minister and Cabinet this week, the country’s news website Newswire reported.
On Monday, Mahinda Rajapaksa had resigned from his post of prime minister of the country amid protests due to an unprecedented economic crisis in the island country. He handed over his resignation to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is his brother.
In a televised address to Sri Lankan citizens on Wednesday evening, Gotabaya Rajapaksa also said that he was ready to abolish the executive presidency once the situation in the island country stabilises.
The executive presidency in Sri Lanka is a system under which gives the president wide-ranging powers take decisions on several aspects of governance. The president can hold Cabinet positions and bypass the Cabinet in taking decisions under the system. The abolition of the system has been one of the demands of protestors and Opposition parties in the country.
Rajapaksa made the statement on Wednesday after holding a meeting with Opposition leader and former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, according to Newswire.
Earlier in the day, the Opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya had agreed to form an interim government but put forward four conditions, news portal Roar LK said. The party said that Rajapaksa should resign as president within a stipulated period of time, and should not interfere in the work of the government while he holds the post.
The SJB also demanded that the executive presidency should be abolished and that elections must be held in the country once economic stability is ensured.
Hundreds of protestors have been holding protests in Sri Lanka since last month as the island country plunged into public debt, leading to its worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948. With the country’s foreign currency reserves dwindling, Sri Lankans are facing shortages of medicines, milk powder, cooking gas, kerosene and other essential items.
On Monday, eight people were killed and more than 200 were injured in protests against the government’s handling of the economic crisis, hours after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the prime minister.
The Rajapaksa family has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades. Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Mahinda Rajapaksa are third-generation politicians.
Protestors have blamed the president and the former prime minister for the crisis, and have demanding their resignations.
On May 7, Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency for the second time in a little over a month in an effort to “ensure public order”.
The Sri Lankan government government had first declared a state of emergency on April 1, giving Rajapaksa sweeping powers to detain demonstrators and seize property. On April 5, the president had revoked the emergency hours after his ruling coalition lost the majority in Parliament.