Wickremesinghe elected Sri Lanka’s president


Colombo: Sri Lanka’s prime minister, Ranil Wikremesinghe, was elected as president of the island nation on Wednesday to replace the ousted Gotabaya Rajapaksa. His election may, however, spark anger among protesters who have been demanding his resignation for several weeks.

Wickremesinghe, who has been prime minister six times but never president, won a comfortable victory in parliament where MPs voted through secret ballot. The vote came after Rajapaksa left the country amidst the people's anger over a spiraling economic crisis. Wickremesinghe, who comes from an old political lineage, faces a tough road ahead as Sri Lanka continues to be crippled by the worst economic crisis since independence. There are shortages of food and fuel.

His election follows a dramatic week in Sri Lanka, during which Rajapaksa after thousands of protesters stormed his offices and presidential palace. Because of angry protests, Rajapaksa fled to Singapore via the Maldives. After this, he put in his papers on Friday. It happened for the first time in Sri Lanka that a ruling President had to flee the country. The fire of protests spread to every nook in the country.

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Many fear Wickremesinghe will protect the Rajapaksas from being held accountable, as he has been accused of doing in the past, and would not instigate the constitutional change being demanded by the protest movement, including an end to the system of executive presidency.

“I am disappointed but not surprised by this result because our politicians have repeatedly shown that they are more concerned about protecting the Rajapaksa cartel than doing what’s right for the country,” said Harini Fernando, 37, a social entrepreneur who was among those who joined a rally against Wickremesinghe on Wednesday afternoon.

“Ranil has bent the constitution like a pretzel in order to make sure he can retain power. This proves, once again, that our politicians don’t stand for real democracy.” The protesters are not happy about the election of Wickremesinghe as the country’s President and may continue their agitation against the government.