Colombo: Voting is underway in Sri Lanka to elect a new president following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa amid an unprecedented economic crisis that has led to a shortage of fuel and other essential commodities in the country. Acting Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is among the top three candidates for the Presidential election in which 225 members of the House are eligible to vote and participate in the secret ballot.
The other two candidates are SLPP parliamentarian Dullas Alahaperuma and National People`s Power (NPP) leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake. Sri Lanka`s main opposition leader Sajith Premadasa yesterday withdrew his candidature from the presidential race and said he is supporting rival candidate Dullas Alahapperuma for the top post.
Premadasa took to Twitter to say that his party the Samagi Jana Balawegaya and its alliance and opposition partners will support Alahapperuma, an MP of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), who is in the fray for the upcoming presidential elections.
Also read: Sri Lankan crisis: Three-way fight for Presidency, acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe also in the race
Premadasa said that he is heading with this decision as he seeks the “greater good” for Lankans. “For the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish I hereby withdraw my candidacy for the position of President. Samagi Jana Balawegaya and our alliance and our opposition partners will work hard towards making Dullas Alahaperuma victorious,” he tweeted.
According to local media, Ranil Wickremesinghe and Dullas Alahaperuma are among the top two contenders. Alahapperuma was campaigning hard for the presidential race along with his prime ministerial candidate Sajith Premadasa in a bid to persuade the Tamil MPs to vote for Dullas, the Daily Mirror reported.
Earlier, former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had offered his resignation after fleeing the country to Singapore. The president first flew to the Maldives after tens of thousands of protesters stormed his official residence in the capital Colombo.
The economy in Sri Lanka is bracing for a sharp contraction due to the unavailability of basic inputs for production, an 80 per cent depreciation of the currency since March 2022, coupled with a lack of foreign reserves and the country`s failure to meet its international debt obligations. Hundreds of Sri Lankans continue to queue up at petrol pumps across the debt-ridden country every day amid fuel shortage, and a large number of people are ditching their cars and motorcycles for bicycles for their daily commute. The economic crisis which is the worst in Sri Lanka`s history has prompted an acute shortage of essential items like fuel.