COLOMBO: Dinesh Gunawardena was sworn in as the prime minister of Sri Lanka by President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Friday along with 17 other cabinet ministers. Gunawardena, parliamentarian of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, took his oath in the capital Colombo in the presence of other senior legislators.
Along with Prime Ministership, Gunawardena has additional charge of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Council, and Local Government. Other ministers included: Douglas Devananda (Fisheries), Susil Premajayantha (Education), Bandula Gunawardena (Transport & Highways, and Media), Keheliya Rambukwella (Health and Water Supply), Mahinda Amaraweera (Agriculture, Wildlife, and Forest Conservations), Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe (Justice, Prisons, and Constitutional Reforms), Harin Fernando (Tourism and Lands), Ramesh Pathirana (Plantations and Industries), Prasanna Ranatunga (Urban Development and Housing), and Ali Sabry (External Affairs).
Vidura Wickramanayake (Buddha Sasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs), Kanchana Wijesekera (Power and Energy), Naseer Ahamed (Environment), Roshan Ranasinghe (Sports and Youth Affairs, and Irrigation), Manusha Nanayakkara (Labour and Foreign Employment), Tiran Alles (Public Security) and Nalin Fernando (Trade, Commerce and Food Security) are the other ministers to be sworn in. Wickremesinghe was elected as the new president of the island nation in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday and was sworn in as Sri Lankan president on Thursday.
During Wednesday's vote, Wickremesinghe received 134 votes following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from the presidency last week amid severe economic turmoil in the country. After his official residence in Colombo was stormed by tens of thousands of angry protesters last week, Sri Lanka's ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to the Maldives before flying out to Singapore. Rajapaksa had offered his resignation after fleeing the country.
Sri Lanka's economy is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves and the country's failure to meet its international debt obligations. As Sri Lanka scrambles to get back on track after the election of a new President, the people in the country -- who are facing severe economic hardship -- are still uncertain about the future.