Colombo: Six-time Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the 8th President of the crisis-hit Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Wickremesinghe won 134 votes, Treasurer of Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Alliance) Dullas Alahapperuma (82), Marxist party leader Anurua Kumara Dissanayake (3), two MPs abstained from voting while four votes were declared invalid by Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena.
Dallas was backed by the section of the Rajapaksa party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramina (SLPP), the main opposition Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Sajith Premadasa, main Tamil party Tamil National Alliance and a number of other independent smaller parties.
However, the election of Wickeremesinghe will force the protesters who ousted both Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and President Gotabaya Rajapaka with their more than three months long continuous protest, back to the streets.
The protesters charged that Wickremesinghe is a proxy of the Rajapaksas.
Suffering a massive economic crisis with no fuel, food and medicine, Sri Lankans took to the streets on
March 31 and protested continuously to oust Rajapaksas from power.
With violent protests on May 9, then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned with his cabinet while President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his exit on July 9 when protesters took over his official house and office.
Later, Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to the Maldives and then to Singapore from where he announced his resignation two years prior to end of his term.
Wickremesinghe was appointed as acting President until a new president is elected by the 225 member parliament.
Twenty-two million people of the country are facing the worst-ever economic crisis with mounting debts, sky rocketing inflation.
The economy mainly dependent on textile export, foreign labour and tourism was hit by 2019 Easter Sunday attack and then the Covid pandemic followed by political unrest.