Status: 07/20/2022 10:01 a.m.
Sri Lanka has a new president. Acting President Wickremesinghe was elected Head of State by Parliament. Unrest in the country is unlikely to end the election: Wickremesinghe is also unpopular with many protesters.
The Sri Lankan parliament has elected interim president Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new head of state. Parliamentary Secretary General Dhammika Dissanayake said in Colombo that he had secured the votes of 134 out of a total of 225 MPs. Former minister Dullas Alahapperuma won 82 votes, Marxist candidate Anura Dissanayake three votes. Two deputies abstained, four votes were invalid.
The country’s division is now overcome, Wickremesinghe said in a brief acceptance speech to parliament. He called on Alahapperuma to “join me and work together to get the country out of the crisis”.
Wickremesinghe is one of his country’s most experienced politicians. The 73-year-old began his political career in parliament in 1977 and served as prime minister six times. He is a lawyer by training and comes from a family of politicians. He was named interim president last week after his predecessor, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled abroad with his wife on a military plane amid massive protests.
Protesters want to keep protesting
Wickremesinghe is unpopular with protesters who see him as an ally of Rajapaksa. They announced that they would continue to protest against him. The island state in southern India, with its approximately 22 million inhabitants, is experiencing the worst economic crisis in decades. The government has therefore requested assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India, China, Russia and other countries, among others.
The country lacks fuel, gas for cooking, medicine and food. The heavily indebted country lacks the money to import important goods. High inflation and hour-long blackouts also cause great resentment.
The reasons for the crisis are manifold – including mismanagement and corruption, but also the consequences of the corona pandemic, which has particularly affected the important tourism sector. Due to the crisis, many people have been protesting against the political leadership for weeks.