Ranil Wickremesinghe declared Sri Lanka’s new president  

Ranil Wickremesinghe declared Sri Lanka’s new president  

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe won the presidential elections conducted by the Parliament on Thursday after Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled abroad amidst intense agitation over the economic crisis.

He will serve the remaining tenure of Gotabaya Rajapaksa till November 2024.

Wickremesinghe received the highest 134 votes and was declared the 8th executive president of Sri Lanka. His rivals Dullas Alahaperuma and Anurakumara Dossanayake got 82 and 3 votes, respectively.

A total of 223 votes were registered in the parliament, two abstained, whereas four were declared invalid. The votes were held through a secret ballot.

 “Our divisions are now over,” the 73-year-old said in an acceptance speech to parliament after legislators elected him head of state.

He said he hoped to be sworn in later Wednesday at a simple ceremony within the tightly guarded parliament building.

At the start of the session, Secretary-General of Parliament Dhammika Dasanayake instructed lawmakers on the voting process and warned them that taking photos of their ballot or publicising their vote would be a breach of the constitution.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered outside the Presidential Secretariat after Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the Sri Lankan President.

Wickramasinghe, who is despised by the protesters, has vowed to crack down hard if protesters take to the streets. As the interim president, Wickremesinghe imposed a state of emergency giving police and security forces unbridled powers and ordered troops last week to evict protesters from state buildings they had occupied.

Ahead of the polls, Opposition MP Dharmalingam Sithadthan said that the Parliament legislators were impressed by Wickremesinghe’s hardline stance against the agitators who had been attacking MPs. He described him as the “law-and-order candidate”.

The presidential elections saw a three-way fight between acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, former journalist Dallas Alahapperuma, and Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, from the leftist Janatha Vimukti Peramuna party.

This is for the first time that the parliament was holding elections for electing a new president.

Presidential elections in 1982, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 were held by popular vote.

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.

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