New Delhi: Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected as the President of Sri Lanka on Wednesday amid public outrage. He defeated dissident leader Dullas Alahapperuma and leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in the presidential election.
Wickremesinghe will be the successor of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who resigned amid an unprecedented economic crisis that has led to a shortage of fuel and other essential commodities in the country.
Acting Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe was among the top three candidates for the Presidential election in which 225 members of the House are eligible to vote and participate in the secret ballot.
The 73-year-old Sri Lanka leader has served as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka six times. He secured 134 votes in the 225-member House. Alahapperuma secured 82 votes and Dissanayake managed to secure just three votes.
Here are the other two candidates who were in contention for the post of Sri Lankan President along with Wickremesinghe
– Dullas Alahapperuma: Dullas Daham Kumara Alahapperuma is a former Cabinet Minister of Information and Mass Media and a Matara district MP of Sri Lanka. He started his career as a journalist. Alahapperuma entered Parliament for the first time in 1994 after topping the Matara preferential vote as a People’s Alliance candidate.
He got re-elected in the year 2000 and served in the short tenure of the 11th Parliament. He was also appointed as deputy Minister of Samurdhi, Rural Development, Parliamentary Affairs and Up-country Development.
In 2001, he decided not to contest in the General Election. Referring to corruption he said that he was ‘too white’ to be in the Parliament.
Although, he re-entered 13th Parliament as a UPFA national list MP in Dec 2005 to the vacant seat. Alahapperuma was appointed as Minister of Transport in 2007 and he also served as Minister of Youth Affairs in 2010. Contested 2020 General election as a UPFA candidate from the Matara district and won.
Alahapperuma voted in favour of the Twentieth Amendment that repealed the 19th Amendment and restored more powers to the executive President.
In August, 2020 he was appointed Minister of Power and in 2021 during cabinet reshuffle he was appointed Minister of Mass Media.
After the political crisis deepened in Sri Lanka, Alahapperuma resigned from cabinet portfolio in April, 2022. In July, 2022 he declared himself as a candidate for election of succeeding President.
– Anura Kumara Dissanayake: Anura Kumara Dissanayake is a leader from Sri Lanka’s leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), or the People’s Liberation Front. He is known as a young, fiery politician.
At a press conference, he said that his party is ready to pull out Sri Lanka from the current crisis in a short time.
“Within a short period, such as 6 months, we can stabilize the country by rectifying the primary causes of the economic crisis. Thereafter hold a general election and appoint a new government with the mandate of the public.”
He became JVP leader at the 7th national convention in Feb, 2014. He has been in Parliament since 2000.
During President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s tenure, Dissanayake served as the Minister of Agriculture, livestock and land in 2004. He also took part in the Presidential candidate in 2019 as the National People’s Power (NPP) party’s candidate.
Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday withdrew his candidature from the presidential race and said he is supporting rival candidate Dullas Alahapperuma for the top post.
Premadasa took to Twitter to say that his party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and its alliance and opposition partners will support Alahapperuma, an MP of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), who is in the fray for the upcoming presidential elections.
Premadasa said that he is heading with this decision as he seeks the “greater good” for Lankans. “For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of President. Samagi Jana Balawegaya and our alliance and our opposition partners will work hard towards making Dullas Alahaperuma victorious,” he tweeted.
According to local media, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Dullas Alahaperuma are among the top two contenders. Alahapperuma was campaigning hard for the presidential race along with his prime ministerial candidate Sajith Premadasa in a bid to persuade the Tamil MPs to vote for Dullas, the Daily Mirror reported.
Earlier, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had offered his resignation after fleeing the country to Singapore. The president first flew to the Maldives after tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital Colombo.
The economy in Sri Lanka is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent 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.
The economic crisis which is the worst in Sri Lanka’s history has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like fuel.
(With ANI Inputs)