Sri Lanka’s parliament elects Ranil Wickremesinghe as new president to help devastated economy

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On Wednesday, Sri Lanka’s parliament voted to elect six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as president, succeeding the country’s previous leader. fled the country amid protests against a major economic crisis.

Following a secret ballot on Wednesday, Wickremesinghe, 73, will succeed former President Gotabai Rajapaksa and serve until the end of his term, which is due to end in 2024.

“I don’t need to tell you what state our country is in,” he said after the victory. “Now that the elections are over, we must end this division. We have had 48 hours to remain divided, but from now on I am ready for dialogue with you,” he added, calling for political unity.

Now he will try to piece together the economic and humanitarian problems of the country, which caused mass protests.

PRESIDENT OF SRI LANKA FLEES THE COUNTRY, PROTESTERS STORM TO PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE DURING STATE OF STATE OF DECISION

FILE - Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022.

FILE – Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka gestures during an interview with The Associated Press in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Saturday, June 11, 2022.
(AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena, file)

Parliament Secretary-General Dhammika Dasanayake opened the parliamentary session Wednesday morning by instructing lawmakers not to publish or photograph their ballots.

The leaders of the presidential race were Wickremesinghe, Dullas Alahapperuma, a former minister and government spokesman, and Anura Dissanayake, a Marxist candidate.

Rajapaksa appointed Wickremesinghe as prime minister in May, hoping to bring stability to a country beset by the worst economic crisis in memory. Wickremesinghe became acting president after Rajapaksa fled the country last week and resigned via email.

This undated publicity photo provided by the Sri Lanka Department of Government Information shows Dullas Alahapperuma, a presidential candidate, in Sri Lanka.

This undated publicity photo provided by the Sri Lanka Department of Government Information shows Dullas Alahapperuma, a presidential candidate, in Sri Lanka.
(Sri Lanka Department of Government Information via AP)

PRESIDENT AND PRIME MINISTER OF SRI LANKA TO RESIGN AFTER STORM OF PROTESTERS AT THE RESIDENCE.

Wickremesinghe, a seasoned politician, received 134 votes despite being seen as a relic of the controversial Rajapaksa administration that brought the country into crisis. economic disaster. After the election, protesters shouted outside the presidential residence.

Wickremesinghe, also the country’s finance minister, has promised to overhaul the government and decentralize some federal powers.

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Alakhapperuma, 63, a populist candidate and former government official, received 78 votes. Dissanayake, 53, who previously ran for president in 2019, received three votes.

Protesters shout slogans demanding the resignation of Acting President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Protesters shout slogans demanding the resignation of Acting President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo, Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Tuesday, July 19, 2022.
(AP Photo/Rafik Makbool)

All 225 members of parliament had the right to vote and the results were announced immediately.

Presidents in Sri Lanka are usually elected by the people. Responsibility falls on Parliament only if the office of President becomes vacant before the official end of the term of office.

Due to the major economic crisis in Sri Lanka, 22 million people faced shortages essentials, including medicines, fuel and food while the government negotiates assistance with the International Monetary Fund.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.