New Delhi: Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday (July 20, 2022) succeeded Gotabaya Rajapaksa and was elected the new Sri Lanka President. Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, 73, was up against dissident ruling party leader Dullas Alahapperuma and leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. While Wickremesinghe received 134 votes, SLPP parliamentarian Dullas Alahaperuma got 82 votes and Dissanayake could manage three votes.
In the crucial election, the voting took place by secret ballot amidst tight security in the wake of the simmering tensions in the island nation during which 223 lawmakers voted while two MPs abstained. A candidate was needed to cross the magical figure of 113 in the 225-member House to win the election. The two senior Rajapaksa brothers – Mahinda and Chamal – were also present during the voting.
The Sri Lankan Parliament voted to elect Wickremesinghe as successor to Gotabaya following a high-voltage political drama that saw the former president fleeing the country and resigning after a popular uprising against his government for the unprecedented economic crisis.
Ranil Wickremesinghe can stay till November 2024
Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new Sri Lankan President, has the mandate to serve out the rest of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in November 2024.
This is for the first time in 44 years that Sri Lanka’s Parliament has directly elected 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.