After the fleeing of Gotabaya, the country now has four leaders in the race
A Special Task Force cadet stands guard in front of the Sri Lankan parliament building in Colombo on Saturday. PIC/AFP
Sri Lankan lawmakers met on Saturday to begin choosing a new leader to serve the rest of the term abandoned by the president who fled abroad and resigned after mass protests over the country’s economic collapse.
A day earlier, Sri Lanka’s prime minister was sworn in as interim president until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose term ends in 2024. Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana promised a swift and transparent political process that should be done within a week. The new president could appoint a new prime minister, who would then have to be approved by Parliament.
Parliament's secretary general, Dhammika Dasanayake, said during a brief session on Saturday that nominations for the election of the new president will be heard on Tuesday and if there is more than one candidate, the lawmakers will vote on Wednesday. Dasanayake also read Gotabaya’s resignation letter out loud in Parliament. “I served my motherland to the best of my ability and I will continue to do so in the future,” former Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said, as he defended himself in his resignation letter.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe takes oath as acting President after Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena accepted the resignation sent by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Pic/ANI
Sri Lanka’s Parliament met briefly to announce the vacancy in the presidency following the resignation of Rajapaksa, who fled to the country on Wednesday after a popular uprising against him for mishandling the country’s economic crisis. The resignation letter sent by Rajapaksa from Singapore to Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was read during the 13-minute special session.
Sri Lanka’s National People’s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake will contest for the President post after the parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena accepted Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation. Addressing the press, NPP MP Vijitha Herath said that Dissanayake will contest the presidency as the candidate from his party.
Also Read: Sri Lankan Speaker officially announces resignation of Prez Gotabaya Rajapaksa
Sri Lanka’s acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe, main Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa are among the four leaders who have joined the race to become the country’s next President as the lawmakers met on Saturday to start the process of electing a new president to succeed Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned after unprecedented protests against his government over the country’s economic collapse.
Marxist JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma, a breakaway SLPP candidate, are the other two leaders who have so far announced their candidacy to contest the July 20 vote in Parliament to succeed Rajapaksa for the rest of his term.
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