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Ranil Wickremesinghe is new Sri Lanka President

The six-time Prime Minister got 134 votes in the 225-member House, while his main rival and a ruling party rebel Dullas Alahapperuma, 82

Ranil Wickremesinghe is new Sri Lanka President

New Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe. AP/PTI file



Tribune News Service

Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi, July 20

Sri Lanka Parliament elected Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe as the President in place of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who 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.

The six-time Prime Minister got 134 votes in the 225-member House, while his main rival and a ruling party rebel Dullas Alahapperuma, 82.

“Our country is facing massive challenges and we have to work on a new strategy to fulfill the aspirations of the people,” he said after winning the vote in parliament.

After becoming the first President in 44 years to be elected by Parliament instead of a popular vote, it remains to be seen how the protesters on the streets view his election.

“I thank Parliament for this honour,’’ said the 73-year-old survivor who came into prominence after his United National Party’s leadership was decimated by LTTE attacks in the mid-90s.

It was third-time lucky for Wickremesinghe who had unsuccessfully contested for President twice earlier. This time he has become President with virtually no political capital. He had lost his seat in the 2020 Parliamentary elections and his party was allotted one seat on the basis of votes polled nationally to which Wickremesinghe nominated himself.

Despite having one seat, his friendships across the aisles and working relationships with China and India meant that the Rajapaksas made him Prime Minister after the incumbent Mahinda was chased away by mobs in May. He was elevated to the post of Acting President after the same fate befell another Rajapaksa brother, Gotabaya who is now in Singapore.

For the President elections, too, the Rajapaksa family controlled Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) backed him with the party General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam stating that Wickremesinghe was the only candidate with the experience to resolve the economic crisis.

There have been no reports yet of the reaction of thousands of Janatha Aragalaya (People’s Movement) demonstrators who have been staging a sit-in for over 100 days over soaring inflation, power blackouts and shortages of fuel and medicines.

Wickremesinghe has been accused of stalling probes against the Rajapaksa brothers but he has denied the charges.

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The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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