Sri Lanka in Very Difficult Situation, Big Challenges Ahead: Newly Elected President Wickremesinghe

Thu, Jul 21, 2022 10:23 AM on Latest, International,

Ranil Wickremesinghe who was on Wednesday elected as Sri Lanka's new President said that he was "in a very difficult situation" and that he faces "big challenges ahead" to lead the country out of the dire economic crisis.

"The country is in a very difficult situation, we have big challenges ahead," Wickremesinghe said after defeating main rival Dullus Alahapperuma, with 134 votes to 82 in the parliamentary vote to become President of the island nation. Sri Lanka MPs voted Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as the new President following a vote through a secret ballot in Parliament. He received 134 votes. SLPP parliamentarian Dullas Alahaperuma received 82 votes while National People's Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake received three votes.

"The Secretary-General of Parliament announces to the House that Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected as the Succeeding President by Parliament," the Sri Lankan Parliament tweeted.

Wickremesinghe, who has served as Prime Minister six times, was among the forerunners for the President post.

After his official residence in the capital, Colombo was stormed by tens of thousands of angry protesters last week, Sri Lanka's ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to the Maldives before flying out to Singapore. Rajapaksa had offered his resignation after fleeing the country.

The main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa on Tuesday withdrew his candidature from the presidential race and said he was supporting rival candidate Dullas Alahapperuma for the top post. Meanwhile, India today categorically denied media reports that New Delhi was making efforts at the political level to influence leaders in Sri Lanka regarding the Presidential polls.

"We have seen baseless and purely speculative media reports about efforts at the political level from India to influence political leaders in Sri Lanka regarding elections in the Sri Lankan Parliament to the post of the President of Sri Lanka," the Indian High Commission tweeted.

While denying the false media reports, India also reiterated that it supports the realization of aspirations of the people of Sri Lanka in accordance with democratic means and values.

The economy in Sri Lanka is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 percent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves, and the country's failure to meet its international debt obligations.

Hundreds of Sri Lankans continue to queue up at petrol pumps across the debt-ridden country every day amid fuel shortage, and a large number of people are ditching their cars and motorcycles for bicycles for their daily commute.