Sri Lanka to elect new president on Wednesday after Gotabaya Rajapaksa flees

Ranil Wickremesinghe has been chosen as acting leader

Sri Lanka's parliamentary Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana announces the process for installing a new president, in Colombo. AFP
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Sri Lanka's Parliament will vote on a new president on Wednesday, after the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has fled the country.

Nominations for the post will be received on Tuesday and MPs will vote the following day, a statement from Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana's office said.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s interim president on Friday.

Mr Rajapaksa resigned after mass protests over the country’s economic collapse had forced him out of office.

Sri Lanka has run short of money to pay for imports of basic necessities such as food, fertiliser and fuel, to the despair of its 22 million people.

Its rapid economic decline has been all the more shocking because, before this crisis, the economy had been expanding, with a growing, comfortable middle class.

The nation is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors but its finances are so poor that even obtaining a bailout has proven difficult, Mr Wickremesinghe recently said.

The country remains a powder keg and the military warned the public on Thursday that it had powers to respond in case of chaos — a message some found concerning.

Mr Abeywardana promised a swift and transparent process for electing a new president.

“I request the honourable and loving citizens of this country to create a peaceful atmosphere in order to implement the proper Parliamentary democratic process and enable all members of Parliament to participate in the meetings and function freely and conscientiously,” he said on Friday.

At least 45 people were taken for medical treatment after a standoff between riot police and protesters on Wednesday night near Parliament, as Sri Lankans demanded the removal of both Mr Rajapaksa and Mr Wickremesinghe, hospital sources told Reuters.

Updated: July 15, 2022, 10:28 AM