Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new president

Colombo, Jul 21 (PTI) Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Thursday sworn in as Sri Lanka’s eighth president and will face the tough task of leading the country out of its unprecedented economic crisis and restoring order after months of mass anti-government protests.

BY | Thursday, 21 July, 2022

The 73-year-old was sworn in as the 8th Executive President of Sri Lanka at the Parliament complex before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya. The three military commanders and Parliamentary speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena were also present during the ceremony.

Wickremesinghe, who took over as the Acting President after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapksa fled the country and resigned last week, is the first Sri Lankan president to be elected by Parliament following a vote.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, was elected as Sri Lanka’s President by lawmakers on Wednesday. He secured 134 votes in the 225-member House while his nearest rival and dissident ruling party leader Dullas Alahapperuma got 82. Leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake secured just three votes.

A Cabinet of 20-25 members will be appointed within the next few days to serve under President Wickremesinghe, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

Wickremesinghe’s victory could inflame the situation once again as many anti-government protesters see him as inextricably tied to the erstwhile Rajapaksa regime, blamed for the country’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. A few hundred protesters quickly gathered after Wickremesinghe was elected as president to express their outrage as they see him as part of the problematic political establishment.

Wickremesinghe, who has been leading the crucial talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), last week said that negotiations were nearing conclusion.

He faces the task of leading the country out of its economic collapse and restoring order after months of mass protests. After demonstrators stormed the presidential palace and several other government buildings, President Rajapaksa fled and then resigned.

Wickremesinghe will have a mandate to serve out the rest of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in November 2024. It was 45 years ago on July 21, 1977, that Wickremesinghe contested an election to enter Parliament for the first time. Wickremesinghe has been in Parliament for nearly five decades and was appointed as prime minister in May, nearly two years after his United National Party (UNP) was routed and failed to win a single seat in the general election held in 2020.

His immediate challenge, along with trying to ensure a steady supply of food and fuel, is to convince the protesters to give him a chance.


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