Voting begins to elect Sri Lanka’s new President

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SUSITHA FERNANDO

Colombo– A week after people’s elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country amid massive public protests and protesters storming his house and office, the 225-member Sri Lankan Parliament is voting to elect a new President.

The voting started at 10 a.m.

On Tuesday, three names, including acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Treasurer of Rajapaksa’s party Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (Sri Lanka People’s Alliance) Dullas Alahapperuma and Marxist party leader Anurua Kumara Dissanayake, were nominated but main contest would be between Wickremesinghe and Alahapperuma as majority have opted to vote either of them.

Wickremesinghe is to get the support of majority of SLPP which won 145 seats out of 225 at 2020 election while Dullas has garnered the support of another section of the same party and also the main opposition Samagi Janabalawegaya led by Sajith Premadasa who withdrew from the race.

Premadasa is to get the post of Prime Minister if Alahapperuma is elected President.

Major Tamil parties too are divided between the two candidates as former war-affected Northern based Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has promised its support to Alahapperuma while Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) comprising Indian origin Tamils from the Central hills is to support Wickremesinghe.

However protesters, civil rights groups and trade unions have threatened if Wickremesinghe is elected, they would get back to streets claiming that Wickremesinghe is to be elected to protect Rajapaksas who they claimed looted the country creating a massive economic crisis.

The main slogan at the Galle Face protest site has been changed from ‘Gota Go Home’ to ‘Ranil Go Home’.

The protesters demanded that all MPs should use their vote against Wickremesinghe.

Suffered with a dollar crunch and inflation, Sri Lanka is facing a huge economic crisis with no fuel, food, cooking gas, medicine and many other essentials.

Economists blamed Rajapaksa for poor decision making including tax cuts, money printing and banning of chemical fertiliser without proper alternative.

With no fuel, transport has come to standstill forcing schools to be closed, reduction in work days and implementation of work from home at government and private offices.

From January, Sri Lanka mainly depended on India’s financial support of over 3.5 billion dollar to get food, fuel and medicine supplies. (IANS)

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