Ranil Wickremesinghe was on Thursday sworn in as the eighth president of Sri Lanka at Parliament complex in Colombo, Newswire reported. Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya administered oath to the 73-year-old leader.
Wickremesinghe was elected as the new president following a vote in Parliament on Wednesday. He received votes from 134 MPs of the 225-member House. Two MPs abstained from voting and the votes of four legislators were rejected.
Wickremesinghe was up against the Opposition-backed candidate Dullas Alahapperuma and Marxist party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in a three-way contest. While Alahapperuma secured 82 votes, Dissanayake got only three.
The voting became necessary after former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned from the post last week amid Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis.
Wickremesinghe is a six-time prime minister who has never served a full term. He is backed by the Rajapaksas’ Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, which remains the largest party in the 225-member Parliament.
On May 12, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the island nation’s prime minister. However, in June he stepped down from office to make way for an all-party government.
Wickremesinghe is now responsible for leading the country out of its ongoing economic crisis.
Sri Lanka, a country of 22 million people, has run out of foreign exchange reserves limiting essential imports of fuel, food and medicine. The island nation’s inflation rate touched 54.6% year-over-year in June while food inflation shot up to 80%.
The economic meltdown led to Sri Lanka defaulting on its $51-billion (over Rs 4 lakh crore) foreign debt in April. The country is in talks with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package.