Right wing neoliberal former PM Ranil Wickremesinghe elected new Sri Lankan president

Ranil's presidency is not going to end the political and economic chaos in Sri Lanka as he is unpopular among the masses  and protest movement

Former right wing neoliberal Prime Minister and acting president Ranil Wickremesinghe has been elected new Sri Lankan president today. He has become 8th executive president of island nation of 22 million people.  He got 134 votes in the house of 225 members. His closet rival was ruling party lawmaker Dullas Alahapperuma who got 82 votes. The third candidate Anura Kumara Dissanayaka, got just three votes.
He has been able to get the majority in the parliament to become the president but he is not popular on the streets. The protest movement and poor masses hates the ruling elite in Sri Lanka and Ranil is part of it. 
He is known for neoliberal economic onslaught in Sri Lanka as Prime Minister. he served as prime Minister six times but never been able to reelect due to his neoliberal pro- capitalist policies. The working class and poor in Sri Lanka consider him part of problem and not the solution.

Many people strongly believes that his economic policies played important role in the current Sri Lankan crisis. He is also considered as pro-western leader. He will be ready to accept the harshest conditions of IMF to rescue the sinking economy. 
There might be more protests against his presidency. The ruling party MP and his main opponent Dullas was more acceptable to the asses and protest movement. Many people wanted to see him as president. They think that he is not part of the ruling elite that created the current economic mess. His defeat is going to disappoint many people.  
Sri Lanka is facing the severe political and economic crisis. The mass protest movement forced the Rajapaksa brothers to resign. Protesters occupied the presidential secretariat earlier this month along with the official president's residence, forcing the then incumbent Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country.

Many protesters see Wickremesinghe as an ally of the Rajapaksa family, and his private house and office were also stormed by people demanding his ouster. Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, became acting president last week after Rajapaksa fled on a military plane to the Maldives and then took a commercial flight to Singapore.

The first task of new president will be to solve the economic crisis. the Sri Lankan people are not only facing shortages of fuel, energy, medicines, food and other essentials of life but also facing the skyrocketing prices. The government has left with hardly any dollars to import the food, fuel and other products. His first task is to strike the deal with IMF to get bailout package. 

Sri Lanka defaulted in May 2022 and since then facing most severe economic crisis in the history of the country. The people are facing severe economic hardships. The economic crisis has hit the poor and middle class very hard. The poverty and hunger has increased in Sri Lanka in last few years. 

                                                               Khalid Bhatti 

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