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Sri Lanka: Ranil Wickremesinghe Elected New President Amid Political Crisis

    Sri Lanka: Ranil Wickremesinghe Elected New President Amid Political Crisis
    Last updated: 4 months ago
    Image credit: Associated Press [via The Guardian]

    Facts

    • Sri Lanka's parliament on Wed. elected Ranil Wickremesinghe as the country's new president. He succeeds Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned last week amid mass protests over the country's deep economic and political crisis. [1]
    • In the secret ballot, Wickremesinghe defeated his main rival and opposition-backed Dullas Alahapperuma of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) by 134 to 82. He also beat the leader of the leftist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), Anura Kumara Dissanayaka. [2]
    • Wickremesinghe, who was appointed acting president after his close political ally Rajapaksa fled the country, and is due to serve the remainder of the deposed PM's term, which ends Nov. 2024. [3]
    • Like his predecessor, the former six-time PM and veteran of Sri Lankan politics is deeply unpopular with protesters. Wickremesinghe's office and official residence was recently stormed, with Sri Lankans calling for his resignation. Many have expressed dismay over his victory in the Presidential race. [4]
    • Sri Lanka is currently facing its worst economic crisis since the country gained independence in 1948 as it struggles to import essential goods. It is depleting its foreign currency reserves and spending vast amounts on repaying foreign debt. [5]
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    Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Sri Lankans are fed up with a system of corruption and the abuse of power continually carried out by an entrenched political elite. As a servant of US imperialism and the IMF, Wickremesinghe is yet another member of the political classes to have worked against the public's interests. It's not enough to simply replace the country's political leadership in undemocratic elections - all 225 MPs should vacate their posts to allow for a real new beginning.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    It's too short-sighted to hold Sri Lanka's political system solely responsible for the country's economic catastrophe. The situation in Sri Lanka is indicative of global turmoil that is becoming more widespread as a result of the food, fuel, and financial crisis triggered by COVID and now the Ukraine war. Financial institutions like the IMF can and should play a positive role in international strategy to help resolve the situation across the world.

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