Sri Lanka Parliament to vote for new President amid crisis
| Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2022, 8:09 [IST]
Colombo, July 20: Sri Lanka's MPs are set to vote for a new president to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled abroad last week amid the massive protests against the unprecedented economic crisis in the island nation.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister is one of the favourites to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa but is despised by the protesters who see him as a Rajapaksa ally.File photo of Sri Lankan Parliament
Wickremesinghe will face off against Dullas Alahapperuma, a staunch Sinhala Buddhist nationalist and a key member of the breakaway group of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party and the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake.
On Tuesday, Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa withdrew his nomination. The winner will be announced tomorrow.
Alahapperuma is a staunch Sinhala Buddhist nationalist and a key member from the breakaway group of SLPP. The ex-Cabinet Minister of Information and Mass Media and former newspaper columnist is being seen as a left-leaning political ideologue. He has held ministerial positions since 2005 and enjoys the reputation of having a clean public life.
Situation is unprecedented and India is worried about it: Jaishankar on Sri Lanka crisis
The third candidate in the fray is the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Wednesday's vote would also be a rare occasion when the House Speaker will vote. Never in the history of the presidency since 1978, Parliament had voted to elect a president.
According to a PTI report, 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.
The new president will serve the remaining tenure of Rajapaksa till November 2024. The 225-member Parliament is dominated by the ruling SLPP party, which has nearly 100 lawmakers.