Ranil Wickremesinghe is Sri Lanka’s New President

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Sri Lankan lawmakers have elected former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new President, a decision that will surely anger the protestors.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the successor to former Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne, won an urgent vote for Prime Minister. This followed months of an economic crisis and increased protests about deteriorating living conditions, particularly the lack of essential resources such as fuel, medicine, and food.

There were 223 possible votes for him, and he received 134 of them.

Parliament was addressed shortly after the results were announced by the new Prime Minister, who said while the country had been “divided on party lines” the “time has now come to work together.”

Earlier this month, protesters set Wickremesinghe’s home on fire and overtook the presidential palace in a desperate attempt to overthrow the government and end the chaos that has afflicted Sri Lanka since March.

Rajapaksa fled after the protests and Wickremesinghe took office as prime minister after vowing to resign.

Nonetheless, Wickremesinghe’s appointment may enrage protesters again since many of them think he’s connected to the Rajapaksa regime. Some members of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna political party even expressed their disapproval of his nomination.

In the run-up to the vote, a small group of protesters gathered on the steps of the Presidential Secretariat, or the president’s office to demonstrate against Wickremesinghe’s nomination.
As the results were announced, people chanted, “Ranil go home.”.

They argue that only a complete overhaul of government will satisfy their demands.
Many Sri Lankans continue to struggle with everyday hardships. People wait in long lines for fuel outside gas stations in Colombo’s commercial capital, largely empty streets. Several businesses have closed and the shelves of supermarkets are bare.

Wickremesinghe distanced himself from Rajapaksa on Monday, telling CNN that the former administration had tried to hide facts about Sri Lanka’s crippling financial crisis.

Rajapaksa’s government had not admitted that Sri Lanka was “bankrupt” and “needed to go to the International Monetary Fund,” Wickremesinghe said.

“I would like to tell the people I know what they are suffering,” he added. “We don’t need five years or 10 years. By the end of next year let’s start stabilizing, and certainly by 2024 let’s have a functioning economy which will start growing.”

Dullas Alahapperuma received 82 votes in Wednesday’s vote, while Anura Kumara Dissanayake received three votes.

With the country facing its worst economic crisis in decades, attention has now shifted to Wickremesinghe and the ongoing talks with the IMF to negotiate a bailout and pacify those who are protesting.

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