Sri Lanka presidency a close contest after frontrunner pulls out

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Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe will face the opposition-backed Dullas Alahapperuma and Anura Kumara Dissanayake in Wednesday vote.

Three candidates are in the race to be the next Sri Lankan president after former leader Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country and resigned last week over the island’s worst-ever economic crisis.

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe will face the opposition-backed candidate Dullas Alahapperuma and Marxist party leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake in the vote to be held on Wednesday, the parliament announced during a brief session on Tuesday.

Sajith Premadasa, who was earlier backed by the opposition as their candidate and was likely a frontrunner, has pulled out of the race.

Premadasa’s decision to withdraw from the race has made the election to replace Gotabaya Rajapaksa a close contest.

The parliamentary session on Tuesday was held amid tight security although the protesters had announced they will not disrupt the meetings to elect the next president.

Alahapperuma is a former education minister and dissident parliamentarian from the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), controlled by the powerful but now unpopular Rajapaksa clan.

Alahapperuma’s name was seconded by G L Peiris, the SLPP chairman, indicating a rift within the ruling coalition as many SLPP legislators are believed to be supporting Wickremesinghe too.

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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