Sri Lanka’s interim president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was elected president on Wednesday, July 20, with a majority in parliament, after Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned last week after leaving his bankrupt country.
Six-time prime minister Wickremesinghe got 134 votes, according to official results, compared to 82 votes for his main rival, Dalus Alagaperuma, and just three for leftist candidate Anura Dissanayake. Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the eighth executive president under the constitution.The Secretary General of the Parliament said after the counting of votes was over.
He will be officially sworn in on Thursday, July 21. The new president spoke in a low-key ceremony at the parliament building on Wednesday under heavy watch by hundreds of soldiers and police.
The new president promises “absolutely”.
“Our sections are now over”, Mr Wickramasinghe said in a speech to Parliament shortly after his election. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s victory, which many Sri Lankans oppose, could lead to further protests against the ruling elite after months of severe fuel, food and medicine shortages, many protesters said.
His main rival, Dulles Beauty, a member of the ruling party, was hugely popular with protesters and the opposition, but lacked high-level governance experience in a country with almost no dollars for imports. International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Instead, Ranil Wickremesinghe is hated by protesters who see him as an ally and protector of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The latter fled the wrath of his people before taking refuge in Singapore in the Maldives on July 9, from where he resigned.
Outside the president’s office – where protesters have been camped for months to oust Gotabaya – 45-year-old actress Tamita Aberathne hopes the movement will continue. “We have lost. The whole country has lost.”He commented to Agence France-Presse (AFP). “Politicians fight for their power. They don’t fight for people, they don’t feel for the suffering. »
On Wednesday evening, the new president warned against resorting to anti-democratic means similar to those that led to his predecessor’s ouster. “If we try to overthrow the government, if we occupy the office of the President and the office of the Prime Minister, it is not about democracy, we will deal with it decisively”He said after visiting a Buddhist temple. “I am not a friend of Rajapaksa, but a friend of the people”He insisted.
Demonstrators occupying part of the presidential office have been ordered to leave the premises by Wednesday evening on pain of eviction. Those who vandalize public property will be severely punished, a senior police officer said. Some observers say that Mr. Wickremesinghe is expected to crack down on any protests.
Having thus realized his lifelong ambition, Mr. Wickremesinghe enjoyed the support of Rajapaksa’s party, the SLPP, which was the first party in Parliament in terms of number of seats. Gotabaya’s elder brother and family head, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is still in the country and, according to party sources, has pressed MPs to support Mr Wickramasinghe.
As soon as he was elected, the new president defeated his unfortunate rival, the 63-year-old Mr. He called Alagapuruma. “Join to work together to bring the country out of crisis”. He’s got a country of 22 million people, devastated by an economic crisis. The island, which defaulted on $51 billion in foreign debt in April, doesn’t even have enough foreign currency to finance its essential imports and is awaiting a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Mr Wickramasinghe, who was elected for the remainder of Mr Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in November 2024, must now choose a prime minister to form a government. He can name his former classmate Dinesh Gunawardena, a former civil services minister and staunch supporter of the Rajapaksa clan.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”