Protesters Demand Wickremesinghe's Resignation as Sri Lanka to Choose President in Four-Way Contest

© AFP 2023 / -Protestors participate in an anti-government demonstration outside the President's office in Colombo on July 9, 2022.
Protestors participate in an anti-government demonstration outside the President's office in Colombo on July 9, 2022. - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.07.2022
Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena has fixed 20 July as the day for the Presidential election, where all 225 members of the House are eligible to vote and participate. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the front-runner in the four-corner race as Gotabaya Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party announced support for the acting president.
Anti-government protesters have sought Ranil Wickremesinghe's resignation as presidential polls set in a four-way contest with the 73-years old acting president being the race's front-runner.

"We as protesters never wanted to make Ranil [Wickremesinghe] the president," Buddhist monk Mahanama, one of the 23 leaders of the Gota Go movement, said, alleging Wickremesinghe had taken control of the government in a "conspiratorial way".

Another protest leader, Nuzly Hameem, labeled the acting president as Gotabaya's man, claiming he didn't have people's support. The leaders said they would not end their protest until Ranil Wickremesinghe stepped down from his post.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled to Singapore via the Maldives on July 13, had appointed Prime Minister Wickremesinghe as acting president.
Ranil's chances of being sworn in as the new president brightened when he received support from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party of the Rajapaksa family in the presidential election.
However, more than 40 MPs from among the 145 SLLP members no longer align with the party anymore, recognizing themselves as independent members of the 225-member parliament.
Local observers claim that this unpopularity among protesters may prompt more SLPP MPs to vote against the acting president on July 20.

The other contenders are Sajith Premadasa from the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), Marxist JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake and Dullas Alahapperuma, a breakaway SLPP candidate.

SJB has 55 MPs in the House, which is 58 less than the majority required for winning the presidential election.
It is expected that 25 parliamentarians of the Tamil and Muslim parties would support Sajith Premadasa. Sajith Premadasa may win the election if the breakaway faction of Gotabaya Rajapaksa's SLLP extends support to his candidature.
The 73-year-old Wickremesinghe became prime minister following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa after months of protests, which turned violent in May, killing at least 9 and injuring 230. Wickremesinghe promised his fellow Sri Lankans that he'd return economic stability to the country in the next two years via a series of economic reforms.
On Saturday, India's High Commissioner Gopal Baglay met with Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena in Colombo, assuring the country of 22 million people of India's continuous support for "democracy, stability, and economic recovery."
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka has introduced a fuel pass, allowing the general public to purchase a guaranteed quota of fuel per week for their personal vehicles. Energy minister Kanchana Wijesekera said each vehicle will be given a specific QR code after verification to ensure equal distribution.
The island nation has been facing severe food and fuel shortages for months due to the foreign exchange reserves crisis triggered by economic mismanagement and COVID-19-induced slowdown.
Sri Lanka owes $51 billion in foreign debt, primarily to US-influenced multilateral institutions and venture funds.
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