Sri Lankan parliament concludes voting for new president - ednews.net

9 August, Tuesday

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Sri Lankan parliament concludes voting for new president

3 candidates competing to win presidency

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Voting to elect a new president in Sri Lanka concluded on Wednesday, as the country grapples with its worst financial crisis.
 
Earlier on Wednesday morning, voting to elect a new president had started with lawmakers casting the vote in the secret ballot.
 
Two lawmakers abstained from Wednesday's voting.
 
Sri Lanka's parliament said on Twitter: "The returning officer shall examine the ballot papers and shall after rejecting any invalid ballot papers, divide the remaining ballot papers according to the first preferences recorded for each candidate.
 
"He shall then count the number of preferences recorded for each candidate."
 
The name of each lawmaker was announced for the casting of the vote. Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena was the first person to cast his vote, followed by other lawmakers.
 
Three candidates are in the race to become Sri Lanka's next president in Wednesday's vote.
 
Sri Lanka's acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe will face opposition-backed Dullas Alahapperuma and Anura Kumara Dissanayake during the secret ballot vote.
 
Alahapperuma is a former education minister and a dissident member of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party, which is controlled by former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa clan. Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned last week amid mass protests.
 
The third candidate is Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the National Peoples’ Power party, which has only three members in Parliament.
 
Last week, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the country's interim president after Rajapaksa fled the country.
 
The country's parliament then started the process to elect a new president.
 
Rajapaksa fled to Singapore from the Maldives on Thursday, having left Sri Lanka in the grip of economic chaos as months of nationwide mass protests called for his ouster.
 
He escaped from Sri Lanka after thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace in the capital Colombo and set fire to the prime minister’s house.
 
Sri Lankans blame the Rajapaksa political dynasty for the crisis. Rajapaksa’s brother Mahinda resigned as the prime minister in May.
 
Crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves after the collapse of its tourism-dependent economy, the island nation of 22 million people has defaulted on all its foreign debt.
 
It has been unable to pay for food, fuel, and other essentials, with the fuel shortage in turn leading to prolonged daily power cuts. Schools have been closed and state employees asked to work from home.
 
The government is negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout package, but no deal has been finalized so far.

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