Sri Lankan Parliament To Elect New President Today; Ranil Wickremesinghe Top Contender

Sri Lanka Crisis: Analysts believe that Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time former Prime Minister who became acting President after Gotabaya Rajapaksa's resignation, is the frontrunner to become the country's new President.

By Aalok Sensharma
Updated: Wed, 20 Jul 2022 09:58 AM IST
Minute Read
Sri Lankan Parliament To Elect New President Today; Ranil Wickremesinghe Top Contender
Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives at a news conference in Colombo. (Reuters Photo)

The Sri Lankan Parliament on Wednesday will vote to elect the new President of the bankrupt island nation, which has been witnessing massive protests due to the ongoing economic crisis.

The elections in the Sri Lankan Parliament, necessitated following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has fled the country, is a three-way contest between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, former minister Dullas Alahapperuma, and leftist leader Anura Dissanayake.

Analysts believe that 73-year-old Ranil, a six-time former Prime Minister who became acting President after Gotabaya's resignation, is the frontrunner to become the country's new President.

Ranil, they say, has the backing of Gotabaya's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which is the largest party in the 225-member Sri Lankan Parliament. They believe Ranil's hardline stance will help in maintaining law and order in Sri Lanka, which is going through its worst economic crisis since independence.

"Ranil is emerging as the law-and-order candidate," AFP quoted Tamil MP Dharmalingam Sithadthan as saying. It must be noted that Ranil, who has been accused of protecting the interests of the Rajapaksas, has already imposed a state of emergency in Sri Lanka.

However, this does not mean that Ranil is set to be the next President of Sri Lanka. Alahapperuma, a former journalist and a SLPP dissident, also has strong backing of the other sections and the main opposition, which won 54 seats last time round.

Besides, 53-year-old Dissanayake can also weaken Ranil's chances. The leftist leader is a member of the People's Liberation Front (JVP), whose coalition has three seats in the Sri Lankan Parliament.

"Earlier Ranil Wickremesinghe was the front-runner but now the outcome is much more uncertain," Reuters quoted political scientist Jayadeva Uyangoda as saying. "The balance of parliament power has shifted away from him. The outcome is dependent on how much control the Rajapaksas have ... over their party members."

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