Atul Keshap, the new US envoy to Sri Lanka presented his credentials to President Maithripala Sirisena on August 21, the US embassy said.
In effect, this was an appeal for a “national unity” government that, in the midst of a worsening economic crisis, will impose the austerity agenda dictated by the global Monetary Fund (IMF). It had also been chose to have the national government at least for two years, he added.
Ranil Wickremesinghe is the son of a wealthy family of entrepreneurs with political ties.
According to the final tally, the UNP has won 106 seats in the 225-member Parliament. He was later appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment. The Rajapaksa government’s decision past year to allow a Chinese submarine to dock twice at a Sri Lankan port alarmed Indian officials, who are wary of China’s increasing influence in their backyard. He drove the United National Front to a triumph in Monday’s parliamentary races.
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Wickremesinghe called for unity in a country still riven by the scars of a decades-long civil war that pitted Tamil separatists against the army.
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s return to power was due to a stroke of luck.
Wickremesinghe was today sworn in as Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister for the fourth time following his party’s victory in the parliamentary polls. The corruption and nepotism had become intolerable to the point that a majority of this badly-ruled, third-world country voted against its incumbent president and “war hero”.
Sirisena is the leader of the SLFP and the deal means that his party members will cooperate with the ruling UNP. But Mangala Samaraweera, who will probably stay on as foreign minister, talks of a defeat for extremists on “both sides of the divide”-the former rebels did not win a single seat”. The northern Tamil dominated electorate had a choice of parties that are prepared to work with the government as well as those that are more geared to opt for confrontation and have the support of the separatist section of the Tamil Diaspora. 44-year-old Keshap has spent much of his career focusing on South Asia, including Sri Lanka, according to a statement by the US embassy in Colombo. The United People’s Freedom Alliance, Rajapaksa’s party, won 95.
Wickremesinghe has served twice before as prime minister, in 1993-94 and from 2001-04.
Rajapaksa openly appealed to Sinhalese nationalists on the campaign trail, prompting Sirisena to accuse him of racism.
“Will Rajapaksa function as the opposition leader?” His spies had ears everywhere. Rajapaksa’s loyalists, however, compelled an unwilling Sirisena to field the former president in the parliamentary election.