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In an interview to discuss Ranil Wickremesinghe’s election as the new President of Sri Lanka and the enormous challenges he now faces – both in terms of his unpopularity with protesters and the economic and political crises facing Sri Lanka – one of the Island’s foremost political analysts says the next couple of weeks will be critical for Wickremesinghe’s political future and also for Sri Lanka’s chances of getting out of the present crisis.
The most serious problem President Wickremesinghe faces is his lack of popularity with the protesters.
How will they respond to his election? Will the protests continue and, even, intensify?
And can Wickremesinghe surprise everyone by finding the charisma and skill to respond to the protesters and win them over?
In a 18-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director of Sri Lanka’s Centre for Policy Alternatives, has discussed a whole range of issues that arise out of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s election this morning as the new President of Sri Lanka.
Among topics discussed were how he will handle protesters, seek the widest possible support from political parties, what policies he will follow to tackle the economy and, finally, the degree of priority he will give to abolishing the executive presidency.
A few details.
It’s quite clear Ranil Wickremesinghe has become President almost entirely on the basis of the support he got from the Rajapaksa’s SLPP. Now, how dependent will he be on this party to get his legislation passed in parliament? In turn, how dependent will that make him on the Rajapaksas? Both former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his son Namal were in parliament today to vote for Wickremesinghe.
Wickremesinghe, in his speech after his election, reached out to all the MPs, including Sajith Premadasa. But will Premadasa’s SJB join a national government? It’s quite possible, Saravanamuttu says, that they may not. That will only further increase Wickremesinghe’s dependence on the SLPP.
At the moment, Sri Lanka is under a national emergency, which Wickremesinghe imposed a couple of days ago. If the protests continue and intensify will he use emergency powers to respond? Not so long ago he called the protestors fascists and rioters. If he uses tough tactics to suppress the protests, Saravanamuttu says, we could see battles on the streets of Colombo between the police/army, who Wickremesinghe may rely on, and the protesters.
Watch the full interview here.