Sri Lanka is set to elect a new president on Wednesday following the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who flew to Singapore via the Maldives, amid an unprecedented economic crisis that has led to a shortage of fuel of and other essentials in the country.
Acting Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe is among the top three candidates for the Presidential election scheduled to be held in the crisis-marred island nation today. 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.
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.
Dullas Alahaperuma is a senior lawmaker from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and a former journalist. He was a Cabinet minister in the previous Rajapaksa government.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is now the acting president, is among those who are in the race for the post of the President to be held on July 20 in which 225 members of the House are eligible to vote and participate in the secret ballot.
It is interesting to note that the main opposition leader Premadasa earlier said that he is set to contest the presidential elections. Terming the scenario of him winning Sri Lanka's presidential elections an "uphill task", Premadasa last Friday said that he will contest the elections as he is convinced that the truth will prevail.
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.