Parliament elects Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as Sri Lanka’s new president

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has held the post of acting president since last week following the flight from the country of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was elected Wednesday by parliamentarians as the new president, despite demands by protesters that he tender his resignation.

Wickremesinghe has obtained 134 votes, beating the other two candidates, former Education Minister Dullas Alahapperume and the parliamentarian of the leftist National People’s Power Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who have collected 82 and three supports, respectively, according to the Ceylonese newspaper ‘Daily Mirror’.

After the vote, the new Ceylonese president has congratulated his rivals for the post and asked the parliamentarians to work in a different way to address the different crises. “People are not asking us for the old politics”, he said.

Thus, he has reached out to opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and other opposition formations to “work together.” “We have been divided for the last 48 hours. That period is over. We have to work together,” he said.

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On the other hand, the Minister of Public Administration and Interior and former Minister of Education Dinesh Gunawardena appears as the main favorite to be appointed Prime Minister and replace Wickremesinghe in the post, as reported by the aforementioned Ceylonese newspaper.

The vote has taken place about a week after Rajapaksa left the country for Singapore, with a previous stop in the Maldives, amid massive demonstrations to demand his resignation due to the very serious economic and social crisis the island is going through.

Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Friday as interim president after being chosen to do so by Rajapaksa himself, after assuring that he would resign once an inclusive government is formed following the resignation of the president, which has not appeased the mood of the demonstrators, who are also demanding that the prime minister leave his post.

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Rajapaksa gave in after months of protests over rising prices, lack of food, medicine and fuel, which has put the small Asian island in front of its worst economic crisis since it gained independence from the British colonial yoke. The popular revolution has led to the fall of the Rajapaksa family, after Gotabaya forced his brother Mahinda to step down as prime minister at the beginning of May in an attempt to put an end to the protests.

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