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Fulfillment Of A Lifetime’s Ambition For New Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe After Election

Fulfillment Of A Lifetime’s Ambition For New Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe After Election


Fulfillment Of A Lifetime's Ambition For New Sri Lanka President After Election

The professional-Western Wickremesinghe has sought the highest place for many years.

Colombo:

New Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s election on Wednesday is the fulfilment of a lifetime’s ambition for a veteran political operator who’s the nephew of one in every of his predecessors.

Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister, was backed by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) celebration of ousted chief Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled overseas after which resigned final week after protesters overran his palace.

The professional-Western Wickremesinghe has sought the highest place for many years.

A number of households have lengthy performed outsized political roles within the Indian Ocean island nation, and Wickremesinghe’s uncle Junius Jayewardene was one in every of its longest-serving leaders — in energy for 12 years till stepping down in 1989.

Dubbed the “previous fox”, Jayewardene was famend for his crafty, however his nephew is thought to be an excellent shrewder navigator of the nation’s internecine energy networks.

It was Jayewardene who introduced him into politics by making him a deputy international affairs minister in 1977. Commentators joked the initials of their United Nationwide Occasion (UNP) really stood for Uncle and Nephew.

Members of the family say that Jayewardene, who died in 1996, had wished to make sure that Wickremesinghe turns into president “even for at some point”.

Gotabaya appointed Wickremesinghe, 73, as prime minister in Could, after the chief’s elder brother Mahinda resigned within the face of widespread protests in opposition to the rule of the Rajapaksas, who’ve dominated Sri Lankan politics for a lot of the final twenty years.

Wickremesinghe ran for the presidency twice earlier than — in 1999 and 2005 — dropping each elections, and the UNP was annihilated in a parliamentary election in 2020, leaving the silver-haired veteran as its solely MP.

His political manoeuvring, nonetheless, has seen him outfox opponents to ascend to the presidency.

However he’ll now have to handle the nation’s worst financial disaster, and whereas he was backed by the SLPP, the demonstrators who ousted Rajapaksa have additionally been demanding his departure — accusing him of defending the ex-president’s household’s pursuits.

Analysts say he’ll crack down laborious if protesters take to the streets in opposition to him.

– Burning books –

Wickremesinghe is married to Maithree, an English lecturer. They don’t have kids and have bequeathed their belongings to his old style and their universities.

However their spectacular library of greater than 2,500 books — which he known as his “greatest treasure” — was among the many losses when their home was torched by demonstrators who additionally drove Rajapaksa from his official residence.

Born right into a rich and politically linked household rooted in publishing and plantations, Wickremesinghe began work as a rookie reporter at one of many household newspapers.

He turned to a authorized profession after the household agency was nationalised in 1973 by Sirima Bandaranaike, the world’s first girl prime minister.

“If Lake Home had not been taken over, I might have grow to be a journalist. So really, Mrs Bandaranaike despatched me to politics,” Wickremesinghe as soon as informed AFP.

His first appointment as prime minister was on account of the Could 1993 assassination of president Ranasinghe Premadasa by a suicide bomber.

The then-premier Dingiri Banda Wijetunga was elevated to the presidency, and picked Wickremesinghe — then Trade, Science and Know-how minister — to interchange him.

The same assault arguably denied him the presidency six years later: his foremost election rival Chandrika Kumaratunga was wounded by a suicide bomber simply three days earlier than the polls.

She introduced the nation to tears in a tv look with a patch over the appropriate eye she had misplaced and obtained a big sympathy vote, with Wickremesinghe dropping an election many thought he would win.

In one other flip of the political wheel, Premadasa’s son Sajith is now the chief of the opposition and backed Wickremesinghe’s foremost rival for the presidency, Dullas Alahapperuma.

– Banking scandal –

Wickremesinghe lengthy had a comparatively clear picture in Sri Lanka’s typically corrupt politics, but it surely was muddied throughout his last-but-one prime ministerial time period in 2015-19, when his administration was rocked by an insider buying and selling rip-off involving central financial institution bonds.

His schoolmate and selection as central financial institution chief was a key accused, elevating allegations of cronyism.

Wickremesinghe has additionally been accused of defending members of the Rajapaksa clan who’ve been accused of graft, kickbacks, siphoning off public funds and homicide.

As performing president, he took cost of a bankrupt nation that has defaulted on its $51-billion international debt and lacks the cash to import important items.

His standing as a pro-Western, free-market reformist might easy bailout negotiations with the Worldwide Financial Fund and international collectors, however he has already warned there might be no fast repair to the nation’s unprecedented financial burden.

“The worst is but to come back. Now we have very excessive inflation now and hyperinflation is on its manner,” Wickremesinghe informed parliament earlier this month. “We’re bankrupt.”

(Aside from the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV workers and is printed from a syndicated feed.)



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