Ranil Wickremesinghe is the new Prime Minister of crisis-stricken Sri Lanka. The United National Party (UNP) Chief takes charge two days after embattled former PM Mahinda Rajapaksa quit his post and is currently at an undisclosed location with his family as anti-government protests boil over the island nation. The protests which began in March snowballed in April as large swathes of the country faced hours-long power blackouts, food shortages, and exorbitant fuel rates amid the country’s worst economic crisis. On May 9, the turning point came with the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa, even as his younger brother Gotabaya Rajapaksa remains president and is silent about vacating his post. Gotabaya said on Wednesday that he will appoint a new Prime Minister and cabinet within a week to take the country forward and prevent it from descending into anarchy. He also vowed to dilute some of the President’s executive powers. “A constitutional amendment will be moved to enact the content of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which will vest more powers with the parliament. The new government's Prime Minister will be awarded the opportunity to produce a new program and take this country forward,” Gotabaya said. He then held a closed-door discussion with 73-year-old Ranil Wickremesinghe who has been picked as the interim Prime Minister. The largest opposition party in Sri Lanka, Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) has refused to join any government headed by a member of the Rajapaksa clan. They have even refused any portfolio under the interim government headed by UNP leader Wickremesinghe, a report by the Colombo Gazette says. In fact, SJB, led by Wickremesinghe’s deputy Sajith Premadasa had broken away from UNP in 2020 to become the main Opposition. Meanwhile, peaceful protests continue as Sri Lankans demand that Gotabaya steps down. Who is Wickremesinghe? Wickremesinghe has held the post of prime minister 4 times in the past. In his last fractured tenure, he was appointed as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015. Sirisena had defeated Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election. At that time, Sri Lanka was already beginning to feel the burden of debt and as the economy slumped, president Sirisena fired Wickremesinghe (October 2018) and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister. Wickremesinghe vehemently challenged this, leading to a constitutional crisis that saw him reinstated as prime minister by December 2018. In April 2019, over 250 people died and more than 500 were injured when bombs went off in churches on Easter Sunday. The attack – the bloodiest since Sri Lanka’s civil war years - shook the nation and played on the voters’ minds as they re-elected the Rajapaksas, known as the war-winning brothers, with a thumping mandate. Wickremesinghe resigned as Prime Minister on 20 November 2019 and was again succeeded by Mahinda Rajapaksa following the 2019 presidential election. Wickremesinghe is in the driver’s seat once again, albeit, as an interim measure for six months at most. His party, the UNP, which is the oldest in the country has only one seat in the 225-member Parliament. Sources quoted by media reports say that he has cross-party backing. A PTI report quoting sources said that members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), a section of the main Opposition SJB, and several other parties would back Wickremesinghe in Parliament. Wickremesinghe during his PM tenure was known to lean toward the West and reports say he is seen as a figure that could draw international cooperation and deliver Sri Lanka from the current economic chaos.