SRI Lanka’s prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as acting president, while the country reels from the economic crisis and the developing revolution
He replaces Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled to Singapore after unprecedented mass revolutionary protests which saw demonstrators overrun the presidential palace and the Prime Minister’s residence.
Protesters defied a curfew to celebrate his resignation during the night.
The process of parliament electing a new president begins on Saturday, with MPs likely to take a vote in a week’s time.
Given the governing party has a majority, MPs are thought likely to back Mr Wickremesinghe, who has close links with the Rajapaksa family.
However Sri Lanka’s workers are warning that his appointment would trigger another major upheaval that would not stop at regime change, but continue.
Earlier this week, crowds stormed the former prime minister’s compound, clashing with security forces.
A demonstrator Manuri Pabasari, said of Ranil Wickremesinghe: ‘He has no people’s mandate (and) is a well known Rajapaksa supporter’..‘I mean the new president and the new prime minister should not be a Rajapaksa supporter.’
Meanwhile the governor of Sri Lanka’s central bank, Nandalal Weerasinghe, has warned that the country may shut down if no stable government is formed soon.
There is a ‘lot of uncertainty’ over whether enough foreign exchange can be found to pay for essential petroleum, he said, adding that ‘progress on getting an international bailout package depends on having a stable administration’.
Meanwhile, Singapore says the ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa did not ask for political asylum when he arrived there.
The former president, who arrived with his wife and two bodyguards, no longer has legal immunity as a head of state and his position is now more precarious as he tries to find a safe country to shelter in.
Meanwhile as the economic crisis intensifies, the fury on the streets increases.
Workers are demanding the expropriation of the banks and major industries under workers control without a penny compensation as the only way out of the crisis.