COLOMBO: The Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday elected acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s eighth president by a majority of 52 votes. He will be sworn in on Friday at the Parliamentary Complex in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, its political capital.
Wickremesinghe’s victory yet again showed the vice-like grip the Rajapaksa clan has on power.
Despite former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing the country following massive protests, his ruling party managed to get his proxy Wickremesinghe elected as successor, though the latter belongs to a different party that has just one vote in the 225-member parliament.
As for the protesters from GotaGoGama, the anti-government protest venue in front of the presidential secretariat, they vowed to continue their agitation demanding the resignation of the new president.
Wickremesinghe secured 134 votes, Dulles Alahapperuma 82, and Anura Kumara Dissanayake 3. Four votes were declared invalid and two MPs, S Kajendran and Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam abstained.
Speaking after being declared the winner, Wickremesinghe said the country’s youth were demanding change and their aspirations should be addressed in carving out a new future while facing the current formidable challenges before the nation.
Analysts see Wickremesinghe’s tenure to be the hardest following the total collapse of the island’s economy coupled with political instability.
Responding to the election of a new president, the IMF said it would send its team to Colombo to pursue discussions the moment a government is in place. Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since Independence.
Hours after the election, the Indian mission in Colombo said, “we will continue to be supportive of the quest of the people of Sri Lanka for stability and economic recovery, through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework.”
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Bilateral trade in Indian rupee
Sri Lanka is looking at introducing the Indian Rupee as the accepted foreign exchange for transactions, Lanka IOC’s MD Manoj Gupta indicated.