Sri Lanka swears in new president amid economic crisis

STORY: Sri Lanka's new president Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in on Thursday (July 21).

The veteran politician takes over from Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country and resigned from his post last week.

The change of guard follows weeks of mass protests over the country's worsening economic crisis.

Outside parliament, Wickremesinghe appeared to distance himself from his predecessor, who he served under as prime minister and finance minister.

WICKREMESINGHE SAYING: "How am I an old friend of Rajapaksa? When do I know the Rajapaksa(s)? I've been opposing them all these time. You come here today and tell me I'm a friend?"

REPORTER ASKING: "YOU'RE NOT A FRIEND OF THE RAJAPAKSA(S)?"

WICKREMESINGHE SAYING: "No, you ask any of them."

REPORTER ASKING: "CAN YOU BE THE CHANGE THAT SRI LANKA SAYS IT WANTS?"

WICKREMESINGHE SAYING: "I will be the change that the people want."

But many Sri Lankans are not willing to wait and see if he keeps that promise.

Hundreds queued outside the Immigration and Emigration Department on Thursday in a bid to leave the country.

A lack of foreign currency has meant there are shortages of food, fuel, and medicine.

Inflation hit an annual 59% in June, according to the statistics department.

Many are frustrated and lay the blame with the government:

"Sri Lankans are making passports to go to India, Saudi (Arabia), Kuwait, and Malaysia, to work there. There is no money in Sri Lanka."

"The government of Sri Lanka is not good. This is why we are leaving. We cannot stay here. There is nothing here. No petrol, no diesel, no gas…nothing."

Sri Lanka is seeking a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund worth up to $3 billion.

It's also looking for assistance from neighboring India, China and other international partners.

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