SRI LANKAN PRIME MINISTER, 2 RIVALS VIE IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE
AP NEWS - 19 July 2022
Sri Lanka’s prime minister and acting president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, will face two rivals in a parliamentary vote Wednesday on who will succeed the ousted leader who fled the country last week amid huge protests triggered by its economic collapse.
Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, is a seasoned politician with wide experience in diplomatic and international affairs and has been leading crucial talks on an economic bailout package with the International Monetary Fund.
He is backed by members of the fragmented ruling coalition, but is unpopular among voters who view him as a holdover from the previous government that led the country into economic catastrophe. The 73-year-old Wickremesinghe was appointed prime minister by deposed President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in May to help restore Sri Lanka’s international credibility.
The leading challenger, former government minister Dullas Alahapperuma, was nominated Tuesday by a breakaway faction of the ruling coalition after opposition leader Sajith Premadasa withdrew and said he would support him.
“For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of president,” Premadasa said in a Twitter post.
Marxist party leader Anura Dissanayake, 53, was also expected to contest Wednesday’s parliamentary vote. He also ran for president in 2019.