Ranil Wickremesinghe elected as Sri Lanka’s President amid protests

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe with Speaker Mohamed Nasheed | Photo: Twitter

Sri Lanka – Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the next President of Sri Lanka with 134 votes during the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.

Wickremesinghe (73) was backed by the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party (SLPP), which has the most seats in parliament, and was seen as the candidate favoured by the Rajapaksa family, who have a significant influence over the party despite no longer being in power.

Wickremesinghe beat competition from another SLPP MP, Dullas Alahapperuma, who was part of a breakaway group of the party and who had the support of the major opposition parties. Wickremesinghe with the backing of ruling party parliamentarians secured his victory with 134 votes out of 219, while Alahapperuma got just 82.

Former President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled from the country due to mass protests calling for his resignation amid the worst economic crisis in Sri Lankan history. Gotabaya transited in the Maldives before flying to Singapore where he tendered his resignation.

As news of the former president’s flight spread, thousands of people gathered at the main protest site in Colombo chanting “Gota thief, Gota thief”, referring to him by a nickname. Hundreds of others stormed the prime minister’s office, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Newly elected President Wickremesinghe has close ties with incumbent Speaker of the Maldives Parliament Mohamed Nasheed, appointing him as liaison to secure foreign aid for the neighboring nation.