Updated: Thu, 21 Jul 2022 11:09 AM IST
Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday sworn in as Sri Lanka's President, days after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Singapore and resigned from his position following massive protests against his family amid the ongoing economic crisis. The six-time Prime Minister was sworn in by the chief justice of the country, the president's media office said.
Wickremesinghe, 73, on Wednesday was appointed as the country's next President by the Sri Lankan Parliament. He received 134 votes while his rivals Dullas Alahapperuma and Anura Kumara Dissanayake bagged 82 and three votes, respectively.
Later, Wickremesinghe - who has been in Parliament for nearly five decades - in his victory speech thanked MPs for supporting him and urged them to work together to revive the country's economy. He further said that he is ready to have a dialogue with the MPs.
"The people are not asking us for old politics. I request Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa and other opposition parties including former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena to work together," he said, as reported by news agency PTI.
"We were divided for the last 48 hours. That period is now over. We have to work together now."
However, protests soon erupted against Wickremesinghe, with agitators calling for resignation. They claim that Wickremesinghe was a puppet of the Rajapaksas and helped Gotabaya flee the country, saying only a complete overhaul of government will satisfy their demands.
"He has been elected against the will of the people. The Rajapaksas have brought him in," Father Jeewantha Peiris, a spokesman for the protest group 'Aragalaya', said. "We will continue our protest campaign until Wickremesinghe resigns."
Meanwhile, India has congratulated Wickremesinghe, who is believed to be closed to New Delhi and its leaders, saying it will continue to support the island nation and help it recover from the ongoing economic crisis.
"As a close friend and neighbour of Sri Lanka and a fellow democracy, we will continue to be supportive of the quest of the people of Sri Lanka for stability and economic recovery, through democratic means and values, established democratic institutions and constitutional framework," the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka tweeted.