The Leader of the United National Party (UNP), Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Wickremesinghe took oath before President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the President’s House this evening (May 12).

Secretary to the President Gamini Senarath and Prof. Maithree Wickramasinghe were also present on the occasion. 

Wickremesinghe has served as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on five previous occasions.

President Rajapaksa and Wickremesinghe held a round of discussion on Wednesday evening (May 11) during which the new appointment for the vacated premiership and the present crisis situation in the country was discussed at length.

Wickremesinghe’s appointment comes after Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the Prime Minister following a brazen attack on peaceful protesters camped outside the Temple Trees and the ‘GotaGoGama’ protest site at Galle Face Green by a mob of ruling party supporters on May 09. The events led to a nationwide public furore.

The resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa was later notified in a Gazette Extraordinary published on May 09, under the directives of the President.

Soon after the swearing-in of Wickremesinghe this evening, former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was reportedly relocated to the Sri Lanka Navy Dockyard in Trincomalee due to security reasons, congratulated his successor.

“Congratulations to the newly appointed Prime Minister of #lka, @RW_UNP. I wish you all the best as you navigate these troubled times,” Rajapaksa tweeted.

The citizens of the island nation have been showing this discontentment with the incumbent government as they continue to stand in long queues to meet their basic necessities, including food and medicines. 

It was reported last week that the Sri Lankan President had requested Mahinda Rajapaksa to vacate the premiership, in order to allow the formation of a government of national unity, an interim arrangement until the present economic crisis could be dealt with. 

Rajapaksa’s resignation as the Prime Minister came after several rounds of discussions among the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) and its constituent parties. The PM’s departure also results in the dissolution of the Cabinet. 

The Sri Lankan government is currently struggling to meet basic requirements for its population of 22 million citizens amid an unprecedented economic crisis caused by mishandling of finances and ill-timed tax cuts. 

The island nation is also currently facing a foreign exchange deficit, which has resulted in food, fuel, power, and gas shortages, and has sought economic assistance from friendly countries. 

Meanwhile, people in the country have been protesting for nearly a month demanding for the government, led by the Rajapaksa family, to resign.