Sri Lankan parliamentarians have elected Prime Minister (PM) Ranil Wickeremesinghe as the country’s new president, despite his unpopularity with the public.
He had been nominated by the ruling party and was seen as the front runner in the race. He roundly defeated party rival Dullus Alahapperuma, with 134 votes to 82 in the parliamentary vote on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka’s ex-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country last week after thousands of protesters stormed his presidential residences and other government buildings, calling for his resignation.
The protestors have also consistently been calling for the former prime minister, now president to step down. They burnt down his private home and stormed his prime ministerial office in Colombo in demonstrations against his leadership.
However Wickremesinghe has defied those calls. He automatically assumed the position of acting president after Rajapaksa fled, and his victory means he will carry out the rest of the presidential term until November 2024.
Sri Lanka is effectively bankrupt and facing acute shortages of food, fuel and other basic supplies. Wickremesinghe will strive to restore political stability to Sri Lanka so it can resume stalled negotiations with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package.—BBC