Colombo (20/07 – 33.33) Sri Lankan MPs have elected prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s new president.
Mr Wickremesinghe faces the task of leading the country out of its economic collapse and restoring order after months of mass protests.
He roundly defeated his main rival for the job, Dullus Alahapperuma, with 134 votes to 82 in a parliamentary vote.
Sri Lanka’s ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country last week.
He bolted to the Maldives and then Singapore after protesters backed by the JVP communist party stormed his presidential residences and other government buildings, calling for his resignation.
They had also called for the resignation of Mr Wickremesinghe, who was appointed prime minister in May.
Multiple reports emerged of funding links that connect the protest organisers to the JVP communist party and its breakaway groups including Peratugami and Anthare.
After the election of President Wickramasinghe, the protesters have called for continued protests and riots to force the new president to step down as well.
In the last months, protesters were responsible for the burning of over 70 homes of political figures, over 55 buses, invasion of the president’s residence, prime minister’s residence, presidential secretariat and large-scale arson across the nation.
Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the JVP party, secured 03 votes out of 225 in the presidential election in parliament today (20).
After sweeping the vote with the backing of the Rajapaksa’s ruling party, he called for unity and bipartisanship moving forward. He told parliament the nation was “in a very difficult situation” and there were “big challenges ahead”.
Mr Wickremesinghe is aiming to restore political stability so the country can resume negotiations with the International Monetary fund for a bailout package.
He was involved in these talks last month, and the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramnua (SLPP) party said most of their members had backed him because of his economic credentials.
“We feel that Ranil Wickremesinghe is the only person with the experience, the know-how and the capacity to provide solutions to the economic crisis,” General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam told the Reuters news agency.