Sri Lanka's Acting Prez Wickremesinghe asks Speaker to nominate PM who is acceptable to all

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Ranil Wickremesinghe. Photo: AP

Colombo, Jul 13 (PTI) Sri Lanka's Acting President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday asked Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena to nominate a Prime Minister who is acceptable to both the government and the Opposition.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office said that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe held a meeting with the Members of the Cabinet at his office on Monday.

All the ministers who participated in this meeting were of the opinion that as soon as there is an agreement to form an all-party government, they will hand over the responsibilities to that government, it said.

Accordingly, the ruling party and the opposition must form an all-party government.

Wickremesinghe is under pressure to quit before the expected resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is said to be flying from the Maldives to Singapore.

The protesters who stormed Wickremesinghe's office on Wednesday are attempting to enter the parliament compound at the time of reporting. The police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters near the official residence of the speaker, police said.

A 26-year-old protester had died of breathing difficulties after being admitted to hospital. He was part of the group that stormed the prime minister's office this morning where 35 others had also been injured.

The Prime Minister's Media Division said the ruling party and the opposition must form an all-party Government.

President Rajapaksa on Wednesday fled to the Maldives from where he appointed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as the acting President, escalating the political crisis and triggering a fresh wave of protests in the country reeling under the worst financial crisis in decades.

Speaker Abeywardena has said that President Rajapaksa has informed him over telephone that he will resign today as promised. He said the vote for the new president will take place on July 20.

President Rajapaksa issued a Gazette Extraordinary, appointing Wickremesinghe as the acting president to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the Office of President with effect from July 13, 2022.

Wickremesinghe, who is now Acting President, has declared a state of emergency in the country and a curfew in the Western province has been imposed as protesters gathered near his office at Flower Road in Colombo.

Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe last week said Sri Lanka is now a bankrupt country. PTI

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