Sri Lankan lawmakers elect Ranil Wickremesinghe as new president

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Wednesday elected as Sri Lanka's new President by Parliament, following a high-voltage political drama

Ranil Wickremesinghe (File)
Ranil Wickremesinghe (File)
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NH Web Desk

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Wednesday elected as Sri Lanka's new President by Parliament, following a high-voltage political drama which saw his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fleeing the country and resigning after a popular uprising against his government for mismanaging the economy.

The 73-year-old six-time prime minister 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 (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake secured just three votes.

The new President will have a mandate to serve out the rest of Rajapaksa's term, which ends in November 2024.

Earlier, the voting by secret ballot took place amidst tight security in the wake of the simmering tensions in the island nation triggered by the unprecedented economic and political crisis. In the crucial election, 223 lawmakers voted while two MPs abstained. Four votes were rejected while 219 were declared valid.

This is for the first time in 44 years that Sri Lanka's Parliament will directly elect a president. Presidential elections in 1982, 1988, 1994, 1999, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2019 had elected them by popular vote.

The only previous occasion when the presidency became vacant mid-term was in 1993 when president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated. DB Wijetunga was unanimously endorsed by Parliament to run the balance of Premadasa's term.

Ahead of the big vote in Sri Lanka, Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa has made a request to India to keep supporting the island nation irrespective of who is elected to the top post.

Irrespective of who becomes Sri Lanka's next president, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all political parties and the people of India should keep helping the island nation come out of its worst economic crisis, Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa said on Tuesday.


Premadasa's appeal came hours after the government told an all-party meeting in New Delhi that India is naturally worried over the Sri Lankan crisis and ahead of the presidential election in Sri Lanka on Wednesday to pick a successor to ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

"The ball is in the court of Sri Lanka and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and they are holding discussions. They need an agreement, then we (India) will see what supportive role we can play," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said after the meeting attended by the representatives of 28 political parties, including those from the Congress, the Left parties and the DMK.

"Irrespective of who becomes the President of Sri Lanka tomorrow it is my humble and earnest request to Hon. PM Shri@narendramodi, to all the political parties of India and to the people of India to keep helping mother Lanka and it's people to come out of this disaster," Premadasa, also the Leader of Samagi Jana Balawegaya party, tweeted.

(With inputs from PTI)

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