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Sri Lanka’s Opposition Leader makes an appeal to PM Modi

Colombo: Ahead of the big vote in Sri Lanka, in which the parliament will elect a new president, Leader of Opposition Sajith Premadasa has made a request to India to keep supporting the island nation irrespective of who is elected to the top post.

Mr Premdasa, the leader of Sri Lanka’s Opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya, tweeted last evening, “Irrespective of who becomes the President of Sri Lanka tomorrow it is my humble and earnest request to Hon. PM Shri @narendramodi, to all the political parties of India and to the people of India to keep helping mother Lanka and it’s people to come out of this disaster.”

Sri Lanka is in the middle of a massive economic crisis, with its 22 million population facing severe shortages of food and fuel, among other essentials.

Months of street protests over the crisis forced former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to resign last week. Mr Rajapaksa and his family members, many of whom were in his government, have been accused of mismanaging the country’s economy, leading to this huge crisis.

Analysts say the frontrunner in the three-way contest is Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time former prime minister who became acting president after his predecessor resigned, but is despised by the protesters who see him as a Rajapaksa ally.

His main opponent in the vote will be SLPP dissident and former education minister Dullas Alahapperuma, a former journalist who is being supported by the opposition. Alahapperuma pledged this week to form “an actual consensual government for the first time in our history”.

Premadasa withdrew from the presidential race in favour of Alahapperuma. He tweeted that “for the greater good of my country that I love and the people I cherish” his party will support Dullas Alahapperuma, a former media minister.