Colombo, Sri Lanka ( Associated Press) – Sri Lanka’s parliament will vote by secret ballot on Wednesday for a new president to lift the country out of a deep political, economic and humanitarian crisis that toppled the previous leader and caused tension in the island nation. Had given.
Prime Minister and Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has been the face of the government’s handling of the economic crisis, will face a major challenge after getting late support for his main rival.
dulce low oxygen waste, a former government minister and spokesman, was nominated by a different faction of the ruling coalition, and ethnic minority parties also said they would support him. Marxist Party leader Anura Dissanayake was also expected to walk.
The winner will serve the remainder of Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s term which ends in 2024. Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned by email last week after protesters stormed his official residence over the country’s economic collapse. and occupied major state buildings.
The economic crisis has left Sri Lanka’s 22 million people short of essentials, including medicine, fuel and food while the government negotiates a bailout with the International Monetary Fund. and the resulting political crisis has left worry About whether a new government will be enough to fix the economy and pacify a public angry at the failures of its politicians.
WickremesingheThe 73-year-old has vast experience in diplomatic and international affairs and is leading important IMF negotiations. Playing a dual role as finance minister, he delivered weekly speeches in parliament, warning that the way out of the crisis would be difficult, as well as pledging to overhaul a government that had more and more money under the presidency. has more power.
Wickremesinghe is deeply unpopular among the general public, who sees him as a holdover from the Rajapaksa government that plunged the country into economic catastrophe.
Only a few MPs have publicly stated that they would vote for Wickremesinghe given the hostility against him. Dozens of MPs loyal to Rajapaksa whose houses were torched by protesters in May are said to be backing Wickremesinghe on assurances that he will punish criminals severely and maintain law and order.
He seemed to be the prime contender during the standoff in discussions for an alliance between Alhapparuma and opposition leader Sajith Premadasa over who should be the presidential candidate. But after Premadasa retreated and offered his support, support for Alhapparuma grew rapidly.
Some expected Wickremesinghe supporters within the ruling coalition to turn to him, and parties that had not decided their vote said they supported Alhapparuma. A main caste Tamil party with 10 MPs also decided that it would vote for Alhapparuma.
If Wickremesinghe loses, most likely he will also lose his job as prime minister as the new president has the discretion to appoint a new prime minister. Premadasa is likely to be appointed prime minister if Alhapparuma wins the presidency.
Wickremesinghe is a six-time prime minister and is making his third attempt at the highest office after losing the presidential elections in 1999 and 2005.
Opponents of his candidacy fear that he represents an extension of the Rajapaksa regime and a possible return to the troubled political dynasty.
Small protests were held on Tuesday by students and political activists demanding Wickremesinghe to step down before being forced. Some intimidating posts circulating on social media warned MPs that they would not return to their constituencies if they voted for Wickremesinghe.
63-year-old Alhapparuma is seen as a populist with good public relations and communication skills. Even though he is a former government spokesperson and has held various positions including Minister of Information and Mass Communication, Minister of Sports and Minister of Power in previous governments, he was not previously considered for top leadership positions.
Marxist Party leader Anura Dissanayake (53) was also expected to contest Wednesday’s vote. He also ran for the presidency in 2019.
The vote begins at 10 a.m. with a secret ballot by the 225 Members of Parliament, presided over by the Secretary-General. The votes will be counted and announced immediately.