Legislators tap the six-time PM as president, defying risk of more protests by people angry over a deepening economic crisis.Colombo, Sri Lanka – The parliament in Sri Lanka has elected veteran politician and six-time Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the crisis-hit island nation’s eighth president.
Wickremesinghe secured 134 votes while his main rival Dullas Alahapperuma received 82 votes in the presidential election by the 225-member parliament on Wednesday.
The third candidate, Marxist leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, managed three votes – all from his own party.
Wickremesinghe’s win is a remarkable turn of fortunes for a man considered as “politically dead” by some analysts.
“I thank parliament for this honour,” the 73-year-old said after the secretary-general of the parliament announced his victory.
Wickremesinghe was appointed prime minister after Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to resign in May this year over the island nation’s worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.
He was made the acting president after predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned by email last week.
Gotabaya was forced to escape after tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets in capital Colombo and occupied his official residence among other important government buildings.
‘Not what we wanted’
It was mainly because of the support from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party (SLPP) that Wickremesinghe became the next head of state.
He had unsuccessfully contested the presidential elections twice since 2000, the last time against Mahinda Rajapaksa, the patriarch of the Rajapaksa clan.
Protesters accuse Wickremesinghe of going out of his way to protect the Rajapaksas from any harm and making deals wi …