Sri Lanka begins voting to elect new president in three-cornered contest

The only previous occasion when the presidency became vacant mid-term was in 1993 when president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated. 

Published: 20th July 2022 10:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th July 2022 10:42 AM   |  A+A-

Sri Lanka Parliament

Sri Lanka Parliament. Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo | AP)


COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday began voting to elect the successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a three-way presidential contest, following a high-voltage political drama which saw the former president fleeing the country and resigning after a popular uprising against his government for mismanaging the economy.

The voting by secret ballot is taking place amidst tight security in the wake of the simmering tensions in the island nation triggered by the unprecedented economic and political crisis. Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, Dullas Alahapperuma, a dissident ruling party MP backed by the main opposition, and leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake were proposed by lawmakers on Tuesday as the three candidates for the presidential election.

A candidate has to cross the magical figure of 113 in the 225-member House to win the election. Alahapperuma's name was proposed by the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa and Member of Parliament G L Peiris seconded it.

Wickremesinghe's name was proposed by the Leader of the House and Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and MP Manusha Nanayakkara seconded it. Dissanayake's name was proposed by MP Vijitha Herath and MP Harini Amarasuriya seconded it.

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Wickremesinghe, 73, is seen as the frontrunner as he has the backing of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP). Wickremesinghe faces a serious challenge from 63-year-old Alahapperuma, who is backed by the main opposition.

This is for the first time in 44 years that Sri Lanka's Parliament will directly elect a president.

Presidential elections in 1982, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 had elected them by popular vote.

ALSO READ | Majority of Sri Lanka's ruling party in favour of Alahapperuma as President, Premadasa as PM: Report

The only previous occasion when the presidency became vacant mid-term was in 1993 when president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated. DB Wijetunga was unanimously endorsed by Parliament to run the balance of Premadasa's term.

The new president elected on Wednesday will serve the remaining tenure of Rajapaksa till November 2024. After the election, Parliament will convene again on July 27.


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