#Triathlon #bankrupt #Sri #Lanka
Three candidates were nominated on Tuesday to replace former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country and resigned last week after protesters overran his residence.
The winner takes responsibility for a bankrupt nation that is in talks with the IMF to bail out its 22 million people who are suffering from severe food, fuel and medicine shortages.
Sri Lanka ran out of foreign exchange to fund even its key imports amid a crisis sparked by the coronavirus pandemic but exacerbated by mismanagement, critics say.
Months of protests culminated in Rajapaksa fleeing his palace before flying to the Maldives and then Singapore, from where he tendered his resignation.
Parliament announced on Tuesday that incumbent President Ranil Wickremesinghe will meet former education minister Dullas Alahapperuma – who has the support of the main opposition – and left-wing leader Anura Dissanayake in a secret ballot on Wednesday.
The three were formally nominated by lawmakers in less than 10 minutes in the heavily guarded Parliament building.
Moments earlier, opposition leader of the SJB party, Sajith Premadasa, announced on Twitter that he was dropping the race in favor of 63-year-old Alahapperuma, a dissident from Rajapaksa’s split SLPP party.
“For the sake of my country, which I love, and the people I value, I hereby resign my candidacy for the presidency,” Premadasa said.
In the late 1980s, when Premadasa’s late father, Ranasinghe, ruled the country with an iron fist, he nominated Alahapperuma, a former journalist and rights activist.
An SJB MP told AFP the two men had agreed overnight that Premadasa would be elected the new prime minister should Alahapperuma be elected president on Wednesday.
“We have a common minimum program that we have agreed on,” said the SJB MP. “We just had one sticking point about who will be the president and that was settled last night.”
But Wickremesinghe, 73, a veteran politician and six-time prime minister, has the formal support of the SLPP leadership, which remains the largest party in the 225-seat parliament.
If Wickremesinghe is confirmed in office, he is expected to appoint Minister for Public Administration Dinesh Gunawardena, a school friend of his and a staunch Rajapaksa loyalist, as the new prime minister.
The third candidate is Anura Dissanayake, 53, leader of the leftist JVP, or People’s Liberation Front, which has three seats in parliament.
A possible fourth candidate, former army chief Sarath Fonseka, received no support from lawmakers to enter the presidential race.
The new Chairman will serve for the remainder of Rajapaksa’s term, which runs until November 2024.
On Monday, Wickremesinghe extended the state of emergency, giving police and security forces sweeping powers to deal with troublemakers.
The protesters, whose massive public display of power drove Rajapaksa away, planned another rally in the capital later on Tuesday to also demand Wickremesinghe’s resignation.
They see him as an ally and protector of the Rajapaksa clan, which has dominated politics in the Indian Ocean country for several years.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, deposed Gotabaya’s older brother and leader of the group, remains in Sri Lanka and party sources said he was pressuring SLPP MPs to support Wickremesinghe.
#Triathlon #bankrupt #Sri #Lanka