Wickremesinghe among three leaders in race for Sri Lankan President post
Colombo, July 19, 2022
Three leaders, including Prime Minister-turned-acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, are to contest in the first-ever race for Sri Lanka's Presidency on Wednesday.
Wickremesinghe is to compete with the support of a section of former President Rajapksa's party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP).
Leader of Samgai Jana Balawegaya (SJB) or United People's Power party and the Opposition Leader, Sajith Premadasa withdrew from the contest and proposed the name of Dullas Alahapperuma, former Media Minister of Rajapaksa government and also a member of the SLPP for the presidential post while it was seconded by SLPP chairman G. L. Peiris.
According to media reports, the contract between the SJB and the sections of the SLPP was to appoint Sajith Premadasa the Prime Minister if Alahapperuma wins the Presidential post.
As the third contender Marxist party leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake's name was included for the race.
The once powerful Mahinda Rajapaksa's SLPP which won 145 seats out of 225 in the 2020 Parliamentary election has been divided into two sections now and are to support Ranil and Dullas. The party was divided with the immense public unpopularity over the allegation of corruptions by the Rajapaksa family.
Ex-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had to flee the country following three months of continuous protests after people were burdened by the debt-ridden economy with skyrocketing inflation.
People blamed Rajapaksa for his unforeseen decisions with massive tax cut and overnight change from inorganic farming to organic for the downfall of food production and loss of jobs for majority of farmers.
With no fuel, cooking gas, medicine, food and fertiliser, people took to the streets from March 31 and amid mounting public protest Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet had to step down on May 9 and on July 9, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that he would resign when protesters took over his official residence, office and Prime Minister's official house, the Temple trees.
However, Rajapaksa fled to the Maldives and later to Singapore from where he announced his resignation. In the absence of a President, Wickremesinghe was appointed the Acting President.