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Sri Lanka Gets New President but Not Calm

Sri Lanka Gets New President but Not Calm

COLOMBO (IANS) – Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s eighth President on July 21, vowed to crackdown on protesters who took over President’s House and Prime Minister’s Office.

Wickremesinghe, who was elected with 134 votes in the parliament said “forcibly occupying the President’s Office and the Prime Minister’s Office under the guise of engaging in the people’s struggle was illegal.”

He vowed that legal action would be initiated against those who occupied the President and PM’s offices by force.

Wickremesinghe informed party leaders that he intends to prorogue parliament for 24 hours for a “fresh ceremonial start”.

The protesters, who occupied the entrance to the President’s Office for more than three months and later took over President’s Office with a violent clash on July 9 and Prime Minister’s office on July 13, had launched a fresh protest against Wickremesinghe claiming they would not accept his Presidency.

The protesters see Wickremesinghe as an ally of ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and charged that many MPs were bought over to vote for him.

As soon as Wickremesinghe was elected, police obtained a court order to remove the tents of the protesters occupied in the Galle Face Green.

Hours after Wickremesinghe was elected, protesters who gathered to the entrance of President’s Secretariat closer to the main protest site, announced that the unending protest would continue until Wickremesinghe is ousted.

Sri Lankan people, suffering with a massive economic crisis with no fuel, food and medicine, took to the streets on March 31 and continued street fights until former Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cabinet resigned on May 9 and on July 9 President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced his exit.

On May 13, then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had appointed Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister of the country after the then Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as the country was trying to fight out the economic crisis.

After Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the crisis-hit country, Wickremesinghe was appointed as the acting President of the country.

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