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Sri Lanka crisis

Sri Lanka begins choosing replacement president

Prime minister differentiates between protesters and insurgents, vows crackdown

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, right, is sworn in as interim president on July 15. Many protesters are insisting that Wickremesinghe step aside. (Sri Lankan President's Office via AP)

COLOMBO (AP) -- Sri Lankan lawmakers met Saturday to begin choosing a new leader to serve the rest of the term abandoned by the president who fled abroad and resigned after mass protests over the country's economic collapse.

A day earlier, Sri Lanka's prime minister was sworn in as interim president until Parliament elects a successor to Gotabaya Rajapaksa, whose term ends in 2024. Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana promised a swift and transparent political process that should be done within a week.

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