Sri Lanka’s six-time prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Wednesday overwhelmingly elected as president to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa who fled the crisis-wracked country and resigned last week.
Official results showed Wickremesinghe polled 134 votes in a three-cornered parliamentary vote, with his main opponent Dullas Alahapperuma getting 82 and leftist Anura Dissanayake just three — giving him an absolute majority on first preferences.
“Our divisions are now over,” Wickremesinghe said in a brief acceptance speech in parliament, inviting Alahapperuma “to join me and work together to bring the country out of the crisis we are facing”.
He said he hoped to be sworn in later Wednesday at a simple ceremony within the tightly guarded parliament building.
With the elevation of the 73-year-old to the top job, the current cabinet automatically stands dissolved and he will choose a prime minister to form a new cabinet.
Speaker Mahinda Abeywardana said the attention of the world was focused on the Sri Lankan legislature as it elected a leader to serve the balance period of Rajapaksa’s term ending November 2024.
“This is a historic session, not only for parliament but the entire country,” Abeywardana said. “The eyes of the world are on us today as we elect a new president.”