West News Wire: Ranil Wickremesinghe, a seasoned politician and six-time prime minister, has been chosen by the Sri Lankan parliament to serve as the eighth president of the island country in crisis.

In the 225-member parliament’s vote on Wednesday, Wickremesinghe received 134 votes, while his primary competitor Dullas Alahapperuma received 82.

Marxist leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the third contender, received three votes, all from members of his own party.

Wickremesinghe’s victory is a remarkable turn of events for a guy who some experts had written off as “politically dead.”

After the secretary-general of the parliament declared his triumph, the 73-year-old stated, “I thank parliament for this honor.

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.

t 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 with the powerful but unpopular family to outmanoeuvre political rivals.

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Amid the unprecedented economic crisis that began earlier this year, Gotabaya turned to Wickremesinghe, hoping the veteran politician would help revive the economy.

But the appointment further angered protesters, who wanted the country’s ruling elite largely controlled by the Rajapaksas to go.


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