Sri Lanka: Sri Lankan lawmakers are set to vote for a new president after their former leader left the country amid protests over the country’s economic crisis. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, currently interim leader, has been nominated for the role by the ruling party and is seen as a frontrunner.
But the protesters wanted him to leave after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned. The prime minister faces a severe challenge from Dallas Alhapparuma, a disgruntled ruling party MP backed by the main opposition.
Anyone elected by Parliament will be mandated to serve the remainder of Mr Rajapaksa’s term, which expires in November 2024.
Sri Lanka is bankrupt and facing severe shortages of food, fuel and other essential supplies. The country needs a stable government to continue stalled talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout package.
A total of 225 MPs are eligible to vote on Wednesday. If a claimant receives more than half of the preferred votes, they win the position outright.
It is a three-way contest between Mr Wickremesinghe, Mr Alhapparuma and Anura Kumara Dissanayake, leader of the Left National People’s Power Party.
Mr Alhapparuma, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), is a senior MP from Rajapaksa’s party, which won a landslide victory in the previous elections. A former minister under that administration, he was among cabinet members who resigned en masse soon after the protests began in April.
Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa was initially expected to run for the presidency. Still, at the turn of the last minute on Tuesday, he withdrew from the race, saying it was for the “greater good” of the country. Some protest organizers have vowed to continue protesting if he becomes president, with many saying he has close ties to the Rajapaksa family.