Sri Lankan Parliament Elects Prime Minister as New President

Sri Lankan Parliament has elected ex-Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as President. He will, in principle, remain head of state until the elections in 2024.

 

Wickremesinghe was prime minister when President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country during mass protests last week and then resigned. He then became acting president and has now been installed by parliamentarians as the new head of state.

The new president has called for united efforts to bring the country out of the crisis. The massive protests against Wickremesinghe last week were fueled by the severe economic crisis.

Sri Lanka has completely collapsed economically. The very prosperous country ten years ago, with strong economic growth and a decrease in poverty, has gone deeper into debt over the years and was already close to bankruptcy in 2016. The country was hit hard economically by the absence of tourists during the global corona measures and is now collapsing under the debt burden.

The state has more than 50 billion euros in debt and can no longer cough up interest. As a result, there is virtually no money left to import essential basic necessities such as fuel, medicines, milk, and toilet paper. According to the Ministry of Finance, there is still 25 million euros in foreign exchange available, but the country would need 6 billion to keep it up for half a year.

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