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Ranil Wickremesinghe Elected Sri Lankan President, Says 'Big Challenges Ahead'

Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected after winning 134 votes in the secret ballot that was held in Parliament today.

Updated
World
3 min read
Ranil Wickremesinghe Elected Sri Lankan President, Says 'Big Challenges Ahead'
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The election for the post of Sri Lankan President came after weeks of a public uprising against former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country and resigned last week.

The island nation, which has been riddled with a politico-economic crisis, hosted a tripartite contest for the post of president. Parliamentarians cast their votes through a secret ballot on Wednesday morning.

MPs casting their vote in the Sri Lankan parliament.

(Photo: screengrab)

MPs casting their vote in the Sri Lankan parliament.

(Photo: screengrab)

The other two candidates, Dullas Alahapperuma and Anura Kumara Dissanayake, secured 82 votes and and 3 votes respectively.

From the 225 MPs, 223 voted, while 2 abstained. A total of 219 votes identified as valid votes and four as invalid.

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Wickremesinghe had been appointed as the acting president of Sri Lanka on 13 July, days after furious protests at his residence led him to announce his resignation as prime minister. He has served as the nation's PM six times in the past.

Wickremesinghe had the support of the primary faction of Rajapaksas' Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party. The party enjoys a majority of 145 in the 225-member Parliament.

How Did the Voting Take Place?

The voting took place through paper ballots. Each member of the Sri Lankan Parliament is entitled to only one vote.

Every ballot was marked with the preferred ranking as well, as there were multiple candidates contesting.

So, the top preference had '1' marked next to the name, while the boxes in front of the names of other candidates were marked as '2' or '3', based on the preference of the voting MP.

The candidate who receives more than half of the votes cast (there are 225 seats in the Parliament), wins the presidency.
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The Contenders

Wickremesinghe's main contender was SLPP rebel, Dullas Alahapperuma, a one-time acolyte of Rajapaksa. Alahapperuma, a former education minister, was being backed by the Opposition.

The third candidate was Anura Dissanayake, leader of the leftist People's Liberation Front (JVP), whose coalition has three parliamentary seats.

Leader of the Opposition and Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajith Premadasa had withdrawn from the presidential race on Tuesday and declared his support for Alahapperuma.

"Come what may we dedicate ourselves to rebuild our motherland through shared prosperity and inclusive growth. Will champion anti corruption, prosperity for all, credible & transparent government. Jayasree," he tweeted on Wednesday morning, ahead of the poll.

A state of emergency had been declared in the country by Wickremesinghe on Monday, in view of the presidential poll.

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'Humble Request to PM Modi': Sri Lanka Opposition Leader's Appeal to India Ahead of Poll Results

On the eve of the crucial election, Sri Lanka's Leader of Opposition, Sajith Premadasa, had requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue India's aid to its neighbouring country, irrespective of the results of the poll.

"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 its people to come out of this disaster," he tweeted.

Sri Lanka, home to 22 million people, is under the grip of an unprecedented economic crisis, the worst in seven decades, leaving millions struggling to buy food, medicine, fuel, and other essentials.

India's Ministry of External Affairs had maintained that it "supports an early political solution in Sri Lanka through democratic means and a constitutional framework."

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said on 10 July that India has committed USD 3.8 billion to Sri Lanka.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Sri Lanka   Sri Lanka Crisis 

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