Ranil Wickremesinghe defeated Dullas Alahapperuma, a rebel leader of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) who is backed by the Opposition, and was elected as the new President of the island nation Wednesday.
Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe will replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the country and resigned after public anger over the country’s worst economic crisis exploded on the streets 10 days ago.
The 73-year-old six-time prime minister secured 134 votes in the 225-member House while his nearest rival and dissident ruling party leader Dullas Alahapperuma got 82. Leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake secured just three votes.
The new President will have a mandate to serve out the rest of Rajapaksa’s term, which ends in November 2024. Earlier, the voting by secret ballot took place amidst tight security in the wake of the simmering tensions in the island nation triggered by the unprecedented economic and political crisis. In the crucial election, 223 lawmakers voted while two MPs abstained. Four votes were rejected while 219 were declared valid.