Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said he will appoint a new prime minister and cabinet this week, after his elder brother and former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned following deadly violence in the country.
The new prime minister and cabinet will command a majority in the 225-seat parliament, Rajapaksa said, adding he will bring constitutional reforms to grant more power to the parliament.
“I am taking steps to form a new government to control the current situation, to prevent the country from falling into anarchy as well as to maintain the affairs of the government that have been halted,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The move followed comments earlier in the day from Sri Lanka’s central bank governor, who said he would quit within weeks unless political stability was restored.
P Nandalal Weerasinghe, appointed central bank chief last month to help the island nation of 22 million people find a way out of its worst-ever economic crisis, said a stable government was essential to stop the turmoil.
“I have clearly told the president and other political party leaders that unless political stability is established in the next two weeks I will step down,” Weerasinghe told reporters.
“Without political stability, it doesn’t matter who runs the central bank,” he said. “There will be no way to stop the economic deterioration.”
Ordinary Sri Lankans blame the government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family for the growing crisis on the island with down to just about $50m, and massive shortages of essentials including cooking gas, fuel and medicine.
After more than a month of mostly peaceful demonstrations, public anger exploded into violence this week, after ruling party supporters stormed an anti-government protest camp, triggering clashes nationwide and the prime minister’s resignation.
With ruling party politicians targeted by mobs, Mahinda Rajapaksa, once hugely popular and a former president, was whisked away to a military base in the country’s northeast, the defence secretary said.