The Straits Times

No end in sight yet for Sri Lanka's crisis

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Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe as prime minister, the post vacated by Mr Rajapaksa's older brother Mahinda, in an attempt to restore stability in the country amid its worst economic crisis in recent memory, and to break a political impasse. It is the sixth time Mr Wickremesinghe, 73, has held that office. He has never finished a full term and there are questions whether this stint will be short-lived too given the bitter politics at play and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's instincts to assert full control over governing administrations despite what looks like a retreat in the face of a sustained public backlash against the proliferating Rajapaksa clan.

While he has inherited a crippled economy and politically wrecked country, it falls on Mr Wickremesinghe to rescue the nation, where even former soldiers - a constituency assiduously nursed by the Rajapaksas - have taken to the streets to protest against widespread shortages of everything from power to medicine and food, on top of rampant inflation. In an effort to assuage public anger, which demands that the Rajapaksa clan be removed from the roots and branches of government, Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa was the most recent to quit the Cabinet after last month's exit of finance minister Basil Rajapaksa. The President, who is impregnable constitutionally, has also apparently agreed to trim his executive powers.

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