COLOMBO: Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has written to members of Parliament, inviting them to form an all-party national government to help the bankrupt country to recover from the worst economic crisis.
"The government is currently engaged in great efforts to gradually restore normalcy to the political and social unrest created by the economic crisis that the country is facing today," Wickremesinghe said in the letter on Friday.
"Accordingly, initial plans required to implement a systematic economic programme are being formulated while preliminary measures are also being undertaken for the creation of economic stability," he added.
Wickremesinghe said a programme could only be implemented with the participation of all political parties represented in Parliament, expert groups and civil society.
He also proposed to start a dialogue with parties on the reintroduction of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The 19A adopted in 2015 pruned presidential powers by empowering Parliament above the executive president.
Wickremesinghe was the main sponsor of the 19th Amendment in 2015. However, 19A was scrapped after Gotabaya Rajapaksa won the November 2019 presidential election.
Sri Lankan MPs on July 20 elected Wickremesinghe as the country's new president, with the majority of the vote coming from lawmakers representing ousted President Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party.
There were only two non-SLPP lawmakers in the Cabinet appointed on Friday. Constitutionally, the Cabinet can be extended up to 30 members.
The 73-year-old President was appointed for the rest of the term of Rajapaksa who initially fled to the Maldives and then to Singapore. Rajapaksa is accused of mishandling the economic crisis, the worst since 1948.
Wickremesinghe was appointed prime minister by Rajapaksa in mid-May.
He was tasked with reviving the economy by giving early solutions to fuel, cooking gas and power shortage problems, which triggered mass agitations against Rajapaksa.
The government declared bankruptcy in mid-April by refusing to honour its international debt.
Wickremesinghe on Wednesday said his government's main priorities are to fix the country's ailing economy and end the severe fuel shortage that has exacerbated after the last shipment under the Indian credit line arrived in the country in June.