Sri Lanka

Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed Prime Minister


Newly sworn in President, Maithripala Sirisena has enacted the first part of his programme. He has appointed United National Party (UNP) leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.

Ranil Wickremesinghe (65) graduated in Law at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ceylon, Colombo campus (now University of Colombo). He went on to complete his law exams at the Sri Lanka Law College and took oaths as an advocate in 1972. He started his political career in the mid-1970s, joining the United National Party (UNP) and progressed through the ranks, becoming a Member of Parliament in 1977.

After serving as one of the youngest ever Ministers under J. R. Jayawardene he was later made Minister of Industry under President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He became Leader of the House in 1989 and in 1993 became Prime Minister. He remained in the post until August 1994 and is credited with pushing through a series of economic reforms.

In 1994, after the UNP lost the general election Wickremesinghe lost the party leadership race to Gamini Dissanayake, but Dissanayake was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in October 1994 and Ranil Wickremesinghe became opposition leader.

After several general election and Presidential election attempts Wickremesinghe led his party to victory in the 2001 election and became Prime Minister once more in December 2001. During his tenure he introduced further economic reforms and entered into a ceasefire with the Tamil Tigers. However, the Buddhist majority were unhappy with his arrangements with the LTTE and in 2004 the UNP lost the general election.

Ranil Wickremesinghe returned as opposition leader and failed in his efforts to win the 2005 Presidential election which was won by Mahinda Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe returned to opposition until his most recent appointment as Prime Minister. His first move will be to appoint a fresh Cabinet and then he is expected to call for a general election.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is married to Dr Maithree Wickremesinghe a Senior Lecturer at the Department of English at the University of Kelaniya.

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