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HomeWorld NewsRanil Wickremesinghe to contest presidential polls as independent candidate, says aide

Ranil Wickremesinghe to contest presidential polls as independent candidate, says aide

President of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe will contest the Presidential election as an independent candidate, his aide said on July 7.

Deputy Chairman of the United National Party Ruwan Wijewardene confirmed that the presidential election will definitely be held and Mr. Wickremesinghe, 75, will contest the election as an independent candidate, News 1st reported.

“Only one leader possesses the knowledge to solve Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. That is Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has proved it with his actions,” he was quoted as saying by the news portal.

On July 7, Election Commission Chairman R.M.A.L. Ratnayake said the electoral body would be legally empowered after July 17 to announce the date for the election.

Mr. Ratnayake added that the commission will announce the date for the next presidential poll before the end of this month.

The Election Commission in May said the presidential election would be conducted between September 17 and October 16.

Mr. Ratnayake said the commission is currently in the process of putting final touches to the 2024 electoral register which will be the basis for the election. Over 17 million would be eligible to vote in the election as per the revised list, officials said.

In April 2022, the island nation declared its first-ever sovereign default since gaining Independence from Britain in 1948. The unprecedented financial crisis led President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to quit office in 2022 amid civil unrest over his inability to handle the crisis.

In July 2022, Mr. Wickremesinghe was elected through parliament to become stop-gap President for the balance term of Mr. Rajapaksa.

Mr. Wickremesinghe, also the Finance Minister, hasn’t made any public statement on his bid for re-election.

“This election isn’t merely about selecting individuals but about choosing the most effective system for our country’s progress. If you believe in the merits of the current approach, let us proceed accordingly,” the President’s Media Division quoted him as saying earlier.

The government under Mr. Wickremesinghe has set in place hard economic reforms as dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme.

President Wickremesinghe last month said that his government has finalised a long-delayed debt restructuring agreement for $5.8 billion with its bilateral lenders, including India and China, in Paris to meet a key condition of an IMF bailout.

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