Sri Lanka to elect new President today – All you need to know

Sri Lanka lawmakers to pick new president among PM 2 rivals

Protestors burn an effigy of acting President and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as they demand his resignation in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Photo : AP

Colombo: Sri Lanka is all set to elect a new President on Wednesday to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled abroad and resigned last week after angry protestors stormed into his palace in light of the present economic crisis in the island nation.
Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, Dullas Alahapperuma, SLPP dissident and former education minister and Anura Dissanayake, the leader of the leftist People’s Liberation Front (JVP) are the main candidates for the top post. Analysts are of the view that Wickremesinghe, who is backed by the SLPP, is likely to emerge as the next President of Sri Lanka.

“Ranil is emerging as the law-and-order candidate,” Tamil MP Dharmalingam Sithadthan was quoted as saying by news agency AFP. Currently the acting President, Wickremesinghe has given extensive powers to the police and security forces and has extended the state of emergency in light of the protests.

On Tuesday, Sajith Premadasa withdrew from the Presidential race and extended support to Dullas Alahapperuma, a former journalist. If voted to power, Alahapperuma may nominate Premadasa as his prime minister. Anura Dissanayake, 53, with his three parliamentary seats, is the third candidate in the fray.

How does the Presidential election work?

Each Member of Parliament will rank their preferences in a secret ballot. The candidate who crosses halfway mark gets elected as the President. If no candidate gets the majority in the election, the one with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and his votes are distributed according to the second preferences given by the voters.

PM Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as acting Sri Lanka president Widespread protests envelop island
PM Ranil Wickremesinghe sworn in as acting Sri Lanka president | Widespread protests envelop island

The candidate elected on Wednesday will continue to hold the Office of Sri Lankan President for the balance of Rajapaksa‘s term – till November 2024. If Wickremesinghe is elected as the Sri Lankan President, Dinesh Gunawardena, 73, his schoolmate and a strong Rajapaksa loyalist is likely to be made PM.