Shortly after winning a parliamentary vote to become Sri Lanka’s new president, Ranil Wickremesinghe didn’t mince words when referring to the severity of the situation in his country.

"Our country is facing massive challenges and we have to work on a new strategy to fulfill the aspirations of the people," the 73-year-old veteran politician said in his acceptance speech, referring to the worst economic crisis to hit the island nation in decades.

Wickremesinghe secured 134 votes in the 225-member parliament with the backing of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party, which is widely viewed as being controlled by the Rajapaksa family. This happened despite fierce opposition from protesters who see him as an ally of former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country following months of mass demonstrations over his handling of the crisis.