The New King

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in Thursday as president, taking the reins of a country plagued with a deep economic crisis that has sparked massive social unrest, including demands for his resignation, France 24 reported.

Wickremesinghe took office a day after Sri Lankan lawmakers voted him in as the country’s president. The six-time prime minister became acting president last week after then-incumbent Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country amid violent demonstrations.

One of his first acts as the country’s new president was to order a crackdown on protesters, the Washington Post reported.

On Friday, Sri Lankan security forces raided a protest camp outside the presidential office, with at least 50 people injured. The raid is likely the harshest crackdown on the demonstrations since they began after Sri Lanka’s economic collapse, which has caused shortages in fuel, food and medicine.

Months of demonstrations have seen protesters storming the residences of both Wickremesinghe and Rajapaksa.

Once allied with the Rajapaksas – another brother who was prime minister resigned earlier this year – Wickremesinghe dissociated himself from the powerful political family after winning the parliamentary vote.

Still, many protesters believe that the new president will protect the Rajapaksas, whom they blame for the current economic meltdown. Following his appointment, demonstrators vowed to continue their protests until Wickremesinghe is gone, the Guardian wrote.

Official sources said the new president is expected to form a multi-party cabinet, a unity government, to steer the South Asian nation out of the crisis.

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