Sri Lanka’s new president Ranil Wickremesinghe takes the oath

On Thursday, Ranil Wickremesinghe took the oath of office as the new President of Sri Lanka following his convincing victory in the Colombo Parliament.

Advertisement

Ranil Wickremesinghe took the oath of office as the next president of Sri Lanka on Thursday, amid an ongoing economic crisis, a day after he won easily with 134 votes in the Parliament. At the Parliament complex, he was sworn in by Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya. With the island’s financial condition spiralling out of control, Wickremesinghe succeeded the deposed Gotabaya Rajapaksa and will hold the position until November 24.

Wickremesinghe, the island’s six-time prime minister, who is renowned for his “clean” political career, will now have a difficult path ahead as Sri Lanka continues to suffer from a severe scarcity of food, gasoline, and medical supplies. After Mahinda Rajapaksa’s cabinet was abruptly dissolved amid serious civil unrest against him, Gotabaya Rajapaksa designated him as prime minister.

Since protesters view Wickremesinghe as an ally of fugitive bureaucrat Rajapaksa, there were critical demonstrations following Wickremesinghe’s victory on Wednesday. Wickremesinghe last week volunteered to step down, but later assumed the position of acting president. Even though he encountered significant opposition to his presidency, he was able to win the majority of votes in the Parliament. Wickremesinghe’s private residence was burned down by protesters in the weeks preceding Rajapaksa’s resignation.

Advertisement

A new President was chosen in the middle of his or her term for the first time in Sri Lankan history. The people of Sri Lanka are concerned that Wickremesinghe will not hold Rajapaksa accountable for the dire financial situation the family left the island in. To put more power in the hands of the Parliament rather than the President, Wickremesinghe has pledged to introduce significant constitutional revisions. He also issued a further proscription against “illegal” protests, claiming that they undermine the orderly conduct of large-scale peaceful rallies advocating for political system change.

Sri Lanka Crisis

Due to the island’s depletion of its foreign reserves, 22 million people in Sri Lanka presently struggle to meet their most basic necessities. Sri Lanka’s foreign debt reached $50 billion as a result of ongoing borrowing abroad, a substantial tax cut plan for 2019 that was followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and other factors. According to the UN humanitarian office, OCHA, a debt and balance-of-payments crisis has resulted from the collapse of tourism together with early-year price shocks for food and energy that were made worse by the conflict in Ukraine. By the end of the year and by the year 2026, Sri Lanka must pay $7 billion in foreign loans.