COLOMBO: The anti-government protesters in Sri Lanka, who forced President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country and quit, on Wednesday demanded the resignation of his successor Ranil Wickremesinghe who has been elected as the new President.
The 73-year-old Acting President and six-time former prime minister secured 134 votes in the 225-member House while his nearest rival and dissident ruling party leader Dullas Alahapperuma got 82. He will take the oath of office on Thursday.
The anti-government protesters had called for the resignation of Wickremesinghe, who was appointed prime minister in May. The protesters burnt down his private home and also stormed his prime ministerial office in Colombo in demonstrations against his leadership early this month.
"He has been elected against the will of the people. The Rajapaksas have brought him in," Father Jeewantha Peiris, a spokesman for the protest group Aragalaya', told reporters.
"We will continue our protest campaign until Wickremesinghe resigns, he stressed.
Meanwhile, Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage issued an order barring people from entering or gathering within a 50 meter radius of the Bandaranaike Statue located in Galle Face in the heart of Colombo.
Sri Lanka Police told the court that there is a possible attempt being made to cause harm to the statue of the former prime minister which is situated closer to the protest site near the office of the president.
The protesters had blocked one entrance to the presidential office on April 9. Although the protesters did vacate three other key government buildings after Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned last week they continue to be at the presidential office gate.
Wickremesinghe did refer to the demands of the protesters after accepting his office and called for bipartisanship to address the issues raised by them including the handling of the economy.
Rajapaksa was ousted for his mishandling of the economy when the island suffered its worst meltdown since 1948.
The economic crisis also sparked a political crisis in the country after a popular uprising against the government.
Sri Lanka needs about USD 5 billion in the next six months to cover basic necessities for its 22 million people, who have been struggling with long queues, worsening shortages and power cuts.