Sri Lanka: Dinesh Gunawardena appointed new Prime Minister

A long-time ally of the Rajapaksa political clan, he was appointed amidst turbulent protests in the country



Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

By AP

Published: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 9:03 AM

Last updated: Fri 22 Jul 2022, 9:34 AM

Veteran politician Dinesh Gunawardena was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Friday.

A longtime ally of the Rajapaksa political family was appointed Friday as Sri Lanka's new prime minister, hours after security forces cleared the main protest site occupied for months by demonstrators angry at the Rajapaksas over the country's economic collapse.

The new President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was elected by lawmakers and sworn into office earlier this week, appointed his school classmate Dinesh Gunawardena to succeed himself. Gunawardena is 73 and belongs to a prominent political family.

Sri Lankans have taken to the streets for months demanding their leaders resign over an economic crisis that has left the island nations’ 22 million people short of essentials like medicine, food and fuel.

The protests forced out former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last week. Several Rajapaksa siblings resigned from ministry posts earlier in the crisis.

The ceremony came several hours after security forces cleared a protest camp near the presidential palace and made several arrests. At least two journalists and two lawyers were beaten by security forces.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka, the main lawyers’ body in the country, called for a halt to the “unjustified and disproportionate actions” of armed forces against civilians.

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