Addressing a gathering at his party headquarters on Wednesday, the newly-elected president said his government was not against peaceful protests and that they would be allowed at all times if the protesters did not break the law.
“I became president at the most difficult time for the country. We have to fix the economy,” he said.
Wickremesinghe said his government’s main task is to first reduce the length of fuel queues and then eliminate them completely.
From June 27, the government has stopped the supply of fuel and restricted essential services.
Electricity and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Monday that Sri Lanka It will restrict fuel imports for the next 12 months as it faces a severe foreign exchange crunch and is announcing a rationing system for the distribution of fuel in the beleaguered island nation.
“The QR system was introduced as the daily fuel demand cannot be met. Due to foreign exchange issues, fuel imports will have to be restricted in the next 12 months,” he said.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, is in the grip of an unprecedented economic turmoil, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel and other essentials. Severe shortage of foreign exchange has hampered imports of fuel and other essential commodities in the country, which is facing the worst economic crisis in seven decades.
There have been several incidents of violence at fuel stations and around 20 people have died after spending several days in continuous long queues. Since the beginning of this year, Sri Lanka has depended on the Indian line of credit for the purchase of fuel.
Sri Lanka, which was dependent on Indian credit lines for fuel imports till February, has now done away with this facility. The last fuel shipment under the Indian line of credit came on June 16. Sri Lanka’s fuel and energy sector has been hardest hit by a foreign exchange crunch triggered by the unprecedented economic crisis.
Indian credit lines for fuel and essential commodities provided a lifeline while the island nation struggled to find an IMF package. An expected bail-out package with the IMF has been delayed because of difficulties in reaching a staff-level agreement after the process began in April.
The worst economic crisis since 1948 led to a debilitating political crisis in Sri Lanka where former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa He was thrown out of power because of the poor operation of the economy.
The mass protests on 13 July attempted to break into the parliamentary complex in continuation of the popular 9 July uprising, forcing Rajapaksa to leave the country. Maldives And then to Singapore.
On 9 July, anti-government protesters occupied Rajapaksa’s official residence and Wickremesinghe’s private residence. The mob also torched Wickremesinghe’s private residence.
Sri Lanka last week Parliament Rajapaksa’s aide Wickremesinghe was chosen as Rajapaksa’s successor, who resigned after arriving in Singapore. This was the first time in 44 years that the Sri Lankan Parliament directly elected the President.
Sri Lanka has seen months of widespread unrest over the worst economic crisis, and many blame the former government led by Rajapaksa and his family for mismanaging the island nation’s economy.