Sri Lanka's Wickremesinghe voted president

STORY: Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected president by Sri Lanka's parliament on Wednesday (July 20).

Despite fierce public opposition to the acting president's candidacy, he secured 134 votes in the 225-member house.

Supporters hope his long experience in government will help end the country's most crippling economic and political crisis in seven decades.

After he was elected, Wickremesinghe spoke of the mass protests that led to the ouster of the previous president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

"The economy of the country today is in a very difficult place. Young men and women are asking for change in the system. There are many problems in the world and we must proceed without getting caught in them. To go forward we need to come up with a new program. What the people are asking of us is not the old politics. the parliament must unite in the face of these issues."

Many who took to the streets last week had wanted Wickremesinghe gone too, labelling him an ally of the Rajapaksa family.

But so far, protests have been muted after the vote.

The presidential secretariat that was stormed by sea of protesters in early July, was almost deserted on Wednesday as Wickremesinghe was voted in.

Soon after the election result was announced, a burst of chants broke out against Wickremesinghe.

It lasted only a few minutes, before the small group of protesters left the steps of the secretariat.

But some vowed to keep up their protest against new leader.

"We won't back down, we won't let this be, we won't settle for any less because at the same time this is exactly what we are fighting for. We're fighting to not settle for any less, to not be comfortable in the uncomfortable but fight for what we deserve

Wickremesinghe served as Sri Lanka's prime minister a record six times and unsuccessfully ran for president twice.

His experience in senior government positions, and reputation as a shrewd operator, should count in his favor as he seeks a way out of the crisis.

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