Policy Framework of Sri Lanka’s Free Market Uncle Encouraged: Legislator

  • Wickremesinghe leads painful economic reforms in crisis-hit Sri Lanka
  • Close allies say local government and parliamentary polls could reverse reforms
  • “The election is not his priority at the moment”, says an official at the presidential secretariat

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to hold a presidential election before any further polls after Nov. 16, 2023, three sources close to him have said, as he seeks a $2.9 billion IMF loan to shore up the economy which is on a slow recovery. crisis.

Wickremesinghe was elected speaker of the 225-member parliament on July 19, days after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country in fear for his life after tens of thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace, demanding his resignation after the failure of his economic policy. He resigned after reaching Singapore.

Sri Lankan opposition parties and many of the protesters who led to Rajapaksa’s ousting are now demanding local and parliamentary elections, saying the current government has no mandate to be in power because its failing economic policies have forced the people to oust them.

The presidency of Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, has been criticized by the opposition and protesters because he was not elected by the public.

Wickremesinghe became president when he entered parliament through a national list after his center-right United National Party (UNP) failed to win a single seat in parliament in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

“The president is considering the presidential ballot first and that will give him a legitimate mandate to push forward the reforms that are now being formulated,” a source close to Wickremesinghe told EconomyNext.

“He can be president for another two years. But reforms need more time to see the country recover economically and recover.

Another source close to Wickremesinghe said there could be a split in the current composition of parliament if he goes to any elections other than the presidential one.

“We are seeing a slight recovery although the worst is yet to come after the implementation of IMF fiscal policies and reforms. Doing partisan politics in the next year will undo all reforms,” the second source said.

The focus is on the crisis

The president’s office has not commented on a possible presidential ballot before the local and legislative elections. However, an official in the president’s office said Wickremesinghe was not focused on “any election” at this time.

“The election is not his priority right now. He has never said anything in any election so far. He is busy with economic policies to get the country out of the current mess,” the source, a senior presidential secretariat official, told EconomyNext.

“He categorically told internal officials that the country’s private sector, civil society organizations, all political parties and the people should come together to deal with the current crisis and if we don’t come together, he won’t. there will be no country to play politics after a year.”

The island nation’s political parties are now gearing up for an election. The former center-left nationalist ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and the Marxist opposition Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna have already launched campaigns at the village level.

Legislative elections should take place after August 5, 2025, five years after they were held. But President Wickremesinghe can dissolve parliament and call early elections after February 2023,

The term of the current presidency ends in November 2024. However, the incumbent can call a snap election if the leader wishes. This means that Wickremesinghe can call early elections after November 16, 2023. (Colombo/Nov18/2022)

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