Five-time former premier Ranil Wickremesinghe will take oath as the prime minister of Sri Lanka at 6:30pm today, sources from his party confirmed.
Wickremesinghe who held closed-door discussions with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa last evening will take oath as the new prime minister following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa on Monday amid violent protests in Colombo, Daily Mirror reported.
Earlier, media reports said that the United National Party (UNP) leader is seen as the frontrunner for the post that was formerly held by the president's brother - Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected to name the new prime minister today to help steer the island nation past an economic crisis and days of horrific violence that have claimed the lives of at least eight people so far.
Wickremesinghe (if named) will likely be at the head of a "unity" government with cross-party support in the 225-member Sri Lanka parliament.
"A swearing-in is likely today unless there is a last-minute hiccup," a senior official close to the president told AFP.
Late Wednesday night Rajapaksa made a televised address to the nation and said he was working with party leaders to establish a new government.
He said he would appoint a new PM and a "young cabinet without any Rajapaksas" - a central demand of protesters who blame the powerful family for the crisis. "I will name a prime minister who will command a majority in parliament and the confidence of the people."
Talks to form the new government haven't been particularly smooth, with the main opposition party - the SJB - turning down an invitation to lead the new government unless the president too quits.
However, about a dozen SJB MPs are understood to have pledged support to Wickremesinghe, 73, who has been prime minister five times since 1993 and is seen as a pro-West free-market reformist.
In his speech the president also renewed appeals for peace, insisting "violence and hatred must stop" and confirming controversial "shoot at sight" orders.
On Tuesday the government said troops "have been ordered to shoot on sight anyone looting public property or causing harm..."
Those orders came after unrest that saw eight people - including a parliamentarian who reportedly shot dead two protesters - killed, over 200 injured, and dozens of buildings and vehicles torched.
The unrest also forced the military to evacuate Mahinda Rajapaksa from the PM's residence in Colombo after protesters stormed the main gate. He and his family have been shifted to a naval base in the southern part of the island.
Following the violence a curfew was imposed; it was briefly lifted this morning to allow people to buy groceries and other provisions before being re-enforced
Over 22 million Sri Lankans face the country's worst economic crisis since independence with severe shortages of food, medicines and other essential goods, as well as petrol and diesel.
The crisis was triggered by rapidly depleting foreign exchange reserves, which means Sri Lanka was increasingly unable to buy essential goods.
Sri Lanka has, so far, been bailed out by India, which has offered over $2.5 billion in basic goods, and another $1 billion in fuel.
The Lankan government has secured the promise of aid from the World Bank, but the violence this week means no substantial progress has been made in that promise becoming reality.
And with forex reserves now below $50 million - from $2.31 billion in February - the situation is dire and Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy.