Ranil Wickremesinghe

Article

August 20, 2022

Ranil Wickremesinghe (born 1949) is the current president of Sri Lanka. He was elected president in July 2022. Previously, he has served as the prime minister of his country three times, 1993–1994, 2001–2004 and 2015–2018. He has also served as the leader of the UNP (United National Party). Wickremesinghe's father's family is Christian and his mother's family is Buddhist. He studied law at the University of Colombo and graduated as a lawyer. He joined the UNP party in the 1970s, entered parliament in 1977 and has held several ministerial positions while his party was in charge of government. Wickremesinghe first became prime minister in 1993 after the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Wickremesinghe did not sit as prime minister for the entire term. However, he began to gain a reputation as a financially sound and pro-Western politician. He received support especially from the city's middle class when he managed to lift his country out of the recession of 2001. Wickremesinghe has always appeared in public as a corruption-free politician, but he has still been accused of, for example, the case related to insider trading at the central bank. After Wickremesinghe became prime minister in 2015, he was accused of protecting the Rajapaksa family. The Rajapakses have been Wickremesinghe's political opponents, but despite this, he was considered to have obstructed the Rajapaksa corruption and human rights violations investigations. Wickremesinghe resigned as prime minister in 2019, when he was already quite unpopular. His party, the United National Party, had also disintegrated after several MPs had left. The former ruling party did not receive many votes in the 2020 parliamentary elections, and Wickremesinghe is its only representative. In 2022, Sri Lanka drifted into a political crisis and the protests began to turn violent. In May, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa decided to appoint Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister for the sixth time. Wickremesinghe stepped in to replace the president's brother Mahinda, who had resigned following the protests. The protesters were dismayed by Wickremesinghe's election as Prime Minister. He had little support and was seen mainly as a security guard for the presidency. In July 2022, Wickremesinghe was first appointed acting president after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled abroad and announced his resignation. On July 20, the parliament elected him as president, and his term will last until November 2024.

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On topic elsewhere

Sri Lanka's ousted PM Ranil Wickremesinghe says US, Japan freeze aid over political crisis The Straits Times