Ranil Wickremesinghe, back as Prime Minister of Lanka, faces major challenges

Ranil Wickremesinghe has built a personal relationship with Sri Lanka’s immediate neighbor India.


Ranil Wickremesinghe, Sri Lanka’s new Prime Minister, a lawyer who has become a politician who has been in Parliament for 45 years, made a remarkable return almost two years after his United National Party (UNP) was defeated and not in it managed to win a single seat. the general election held in August 2020.

The 73-year-old leader, who is believed to be close to India, was appointed as the 26th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka amid the worst economic crisis in the country by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He is widely accepted in political circles as a man who could run the economy with far-sighted policies.

His appointment fills the gap of a leadership as Sri Lanka has been without a government since Monday when Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s older brother and prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned following violent protests following an attack on the anti-government protesters by his supporters.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, considered the Sri Lankan politician who can command international cooperation, has held many important positions during his political career spanning four and a half decades.

He has built a personal relationship with Sri Lanka’s immediate neighbor India and visited the country on four occasions – October 2016, April 2017, November 2017 and October 2018 – during his previous term as Prime Minister.

During the same period, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid two visits to Sri Lanka and also responded to a personal request from Ranil Wickremesinghe to help the island nation set up the 1990 ambulance system – a free health care service that became extremely helpful during Covid 19.

Despite opposition from then-President Maithripala Sirisena, Ranil Wickremesinghe backed the agreement with India on the Colombo port’s eastern terminal that broke the Rajapsksas in 2020.

His party United National Party, the oldest party in the country, failed to win a single seat in 2020’s parliamentary polls. He was withdrawn for the first time since 1977, but later found his way to Parliament through the only national list allocated to the UNP by cumulative national vote.

His deputy Sajith Premadasa led the breakaway Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) and became the main opposition.

Ranil Wickremesinghe, the cousin of Sri Lanka’s first executive president Junius Jayewardene, was appointed prime minister for the first time from 1993-1994 following the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

He was also elected Prime Minister from 2001-2004 when the United National Front Government won the 2001 general election. But he lost power in 2004, after Chandrika Kumaratunga called early elections.

During his term as Prime Minister, he began peace negotiations with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and even offered a power-sharing agreement. Both Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa accused him of being too lenient towards LTTE and giving them too many concessions.

Ranil Wickremesinghe inflicted a shocking defeat on Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015 polls and led a minority government.

When he took office as prime minister for the third time in 2015, he vowed to hand over power to the country’s Tamil minority, in a move toward national reconciliation six years after a military offensive crushed the LTTE.

In 2018, then-President Sirisena fired Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. Sirisena’s move has sparked a constitutional crisis in the country. However, a Supreme Court ruling forced President Sirisena to restore Wickremesinghe, ending Rajapaksa’s brief rule.

Wickremesinghe, who was born in 1949 after Sri Lanka gained independence from the British, was elected to Parliament in 1977 at the age of 28, having worked from his university days in the United Nations Youth League (UNP).

As the youngest minister in Sri Lanka at the time, he held the post of Deputy Foreign Minister under President Jayewardene.

He was later appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment. He also held the portfolio of Education. Then in 1989, as a seasoned legislator, he was made the Leader of the House under President Premadasa. He also served as Minister of Industry, Science and Technology.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by techlives staff and is being published from a syndicated stream.)

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