Ranil Wickremesinghe has been in and out of office for two decades but has never seen out a full term. [Source: BBC News]
Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has appointed a new prime minister as he tries to defuse protests over his handling of a severe economic crisis.
Senior opposition MP Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in to lead a proposed cross-party government.
The move came after the president ignored calls to resign, and vowed to restore order in a national address.
Nine people have been killed and 200 injured in unrest since his brother resigned as prime minister on Monday.
During his nationwide address, Mr Rajapaksa said he would appoint a new prime minister who commanded the majority of support in parliament, as well as a new cabinet.
Mr Wickremesinghe has been on Sri Lanka’s political scene for decades – this will be his sixth stint as prime minister, although he’s never seen out a full term.
He is seen as being close to the Rajapaksas, and experts believe he has been chosen because he would be likely to guarantee their security and any safe passage they might request.
But he does not currently command much support within the opposition or among the public.
A nationwide curfew that shut shops, businesses and offices was lifted for a few hours on Thursday morning, but reimposed in the afternoon.
Sri Lanka’s economy is in freefall and people are desperate as basic items like food and fuel run out or become unaffordable.
In Colombo residents started lining up outside petrol stations even before the curfew was lifted. More vehicles could be seen on the roads as people rushed out to buy essentials.