World

US and Japan had frozen billion dollars of development aid : Ranil Wickremesinghe

Colombo. Sri Lanka’s deposed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said the United States and Japan had frozen more than a billion dollars of development aid after his abrupt dismissal raised doubts about the future of democracy in the island.

President Maithripala Sirisena fired him last month after months of tensions within the government and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as premier in a shock move that has plunged the nation into a political crisis.

Rajapaksa is a former president who led the country to a military defeat of Tamil separatist guerrillas in 2009 but who has since faced widespread allegations of human rights abuse and targeting of Tamil civilians.

Wickremesinghe, who has challenged his dismissal and vowed to remain prime minister until parliament voted him out, said there were international concerns about a government led by Rajapaksa as reported by Reuters.

The United States has held off on a nearly $500 million aid programme for building of highways and improving land administration by the government-funded Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Wickremesinghe said.

Japan had also put on hold plans to extend a soft loan of $1.4 billion for a light railway project, he said. “A lot of projects are held up, the Millennium Challenge, the Japanese loan,” he said.

While Wickremesinghe is staying on in the premier’s residence called Temple Trees, Rajapaksa has taken over the offices of the prime minister following his swearing in.

Wickremesinghe said his party will step up a public campaign for parliament to be called and he be allowed to prove his majority.

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