Army personnel patrol on a boat in front of Sri Lankan Parliament in Colombo (AFP or licensors)

By Vatican News staff reporter

July 21 2022

Sri Lanka’s parliament elects Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country’s new president who faces the challenge of rebuilding a collapsing economy and restoring law and order.

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe is now Head of State after being elected by Sri Lanka lawmakers on Wednesday.

It is a controversial choice, being opposed many ordinary Sri Lankans, and there are fears his selection could lead to more protests by people furious with the ruling elite after months of severe shortages of fuel, food and medicines.

He was up against ruling party lawmaker Dullas Alahapperuma, who does not have any top-level governance experience.

The 225-member parliament gave 134 votes to Wickremesinghe and 82 to Alahapperuma.

As the vote took place, hundreds of police, and military troops were deployed around the parliament building.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, became acting president last week after then president Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Singapore when hundreds of thousands of people came out on the streets against his administration and occupied his official residence and office.

Economic crisis

They blame Rajapaksa for the economic crisis that is engulfing the country.

Wickremesinghe also felt the full wrath of protesters discontent last week when they burned down his private home and stormed his office in Colombo.

Following his election, the new president told parliament the nation was “in a very difficult situation” and there were “big challenges ahead”.

He also urged his political opponents to work with his government for the good of the country.

The president now faces the challenging task of addressing the country’s economic woes and restoring order following recent protests.

Wickremesinghe will serve out the rest of the presidential term until November 2024. – Vatican News