New Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will take oath

According to the Constitution, the 73-year-old is the first president of Sri Lanka to be chosen by Parliament.

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Ranil Wickremesinghe, a seasoned politician, will take the oath of office as Sri Lanka’s eighth president on Thursday.

Wickremesinghe, 73, will take the oath of office in front of Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya on the grounds of the parliament.

Wickremesinghe is the first president of Sri Lanka to be chosen by Parliament in accordance with the Constitution; he took office as Acting President after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned and departed the country.

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After the passing of the then-President, R Premadasa, in May 1993, late D B Wijetunga was elected without opposition.

In a remarkable decision, Wickremesinghe was chosen by lawmakers to lead Sri Lanka as president on Wednesday. This could help maintain momentum in discussions with the IMF about a country-wide bailout arrangement.

In the 225-member House, Wickremesinghe received 134 votes, while the leader of the opposition ruling party, Dullas Alahapperuma, received 82. Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the leader of the left-leaning Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, received just three votes during the voting that took place in Parliament under heavy security.

After months of widespread protests, he must restore order while guiding the nation out of its economic crisis.

In the next days, President Wickremesinghe will pick a cabinet of 20 to 25 members, according to the Daily Mirror newspaper.

Despite the resignations of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa in recent weeks in the face of intense anti-government protests, Wickremesinghe won with ease with the support of the Rajapaksa family’s Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party.

Given that many anti-government protestors saw Wickremesinghe as being intimately linked to the former Rajapaksa regime, which is held accountable for the country’s greatest economic crisis since independence in 1948, his election could exacerbate the situation once again.

Wickremesinghe, who has been in charge of the important negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), declared last week that they were almost over.

To provide basic commodities for its 22 million residents, who have been hampered by lengthy lines, rising shortages, and frequent power outages, Sri Lanka needs around USD 5 billion over the next six months.

Wickremesinghe will be given the authority to complete Rajapaksa’s remaining term, which expires in November 2024.

Nearly two years after his United National Party (UNP) was decimated and didn’t win a single seat in the general election conducted in 2020, Wickremesinghe, who has served in parliament for nearly 50 years, was chosen as prime minister.

The economy, according to Wickremesinghe, had crumbled at the time of his appointment in May. Wickremesinghe is widely regarded in political circles as a man who could handle the economy with long-term strategies.

Wickremesinghe has held a number of significant positions throughout his career and is reputed to be close to India’s leaders.