Sri Lanka's Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe on July 18 urged the political parties to put aside their differences and form an all-party government which would allow the country to recover from the economic crisis as he assured the public that talks with the IMF were nearing conclusion.
Wickremesinghe, who earlier in the day declared a state of emergency giving him broad powers ahead of the crucial presidential election on Wednesday, made the appeal in a special statement in which he said that when he took over as the Prime Minister on May 13, the economy had collapsed.
"Acting President Wickremesinghe called upon the political parties in the country to put aside their differences and not allow the country to suffer over differences over an individual. He urged them to come together and form an All-Party Government which would allow the country to recover from the economic crisis," according to the statement issued by his office on his behalf.
In the statement, Wickremesinghe said that in the two months since he assumed the post of prime minister, power cuts had been reduced to 3 hours a day, fertiliser has been provided to the farmers and the gas shortage in the country has been solved.
Wickremesinghe, who is one the contenders for the post of President, further said that July would be a difficult period for the supply of fuel. However, diesel stocks have been secured and are being distributed while from July 21 petrol will also be distributed.
He also explained that relief was being provided to the citizens who are struggling with the economic crisis. The loans taken by paddy farmers who have planted fields less than 2 acres have been cancelled. While due to the drop in the world oil prices, the fuel prices in the country have also been reduced, he said.
Wickremesinghe also highlighted the steps taken so far and said that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were nearing conclusion, and discussions for assistance with foreign countries was also progressing.
He was sworn-in as acting president on Friday after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives and then to Singapore from where he resigned in the face of public revolt against his government's mishandling of the country's economy.
Wickremesinghe went on to explain that the current political crisis in the country is due to the Executive Presidency, and said that the 19th Amendment would be re-introduced which would address many of the concerns of the public.
He also warned that there were elements within society who were attempting to disrupt the peace in the country and said these elements would be prohibited from disrupting the country's progress.
Wickremesinghe said that the government would hold talks with peaceful protesters who had legitimate concerns and solutions would be found for them.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials.