UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, less than a year after being sworn in as a National List MP, was appointed as Prime Minister of the crises-hit country by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa yesterday evening (12).
The 73-year-old six-time Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, was sworn in before the President after the main Opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) refused to take the post without the President’s resignation.
The swearing-in ceremony was held at the President’s House in Fort yesterday at the auspicious time of 6:30 p.m.
After being sworn in as the Prime Minister, Wickremesinghe paid homage at Walukarama Rajamaha Viharaya, Kollupitiya and engaged in religious activities.
Speaking to the Media after engaging in religious activities, Wickremesinghe said he would do whatever he can to resolve the current crises with the support of all parties in Parliament.
He said the ‘GotaGoGama’ citizens’ protest site at Galle Face should continue and the Police would not interfere with the protesters.
Speaking further, Wickremesinghe said he will command a majority in Parliament, adding that no decision has been taken so far with regard to the number of Cabinet Ministers.
Meanwhile, Special Grade Officer of the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, Saman Ekanayake was appointed as the Secretary to the PM, on the same evening. Ekanayake acted as the PM’s Secretary when Wickremesinghe held the post from 2015 to 2019.
Wickremesinghe entered politics in the 1970s from the UNP. He was first elected to Parliament from the Biyagama electorate in the 1977 Parliamentary Election and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, by his uncle, President J.R. Jayewardene.
He was later appointed as the Youth Affairs and Empowerment Minister, becoming the youngest Cabinet Minister in Sri Lanka.
Former President Ranasinghe Premadasa appointed him as the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and the Leader of the House in 1989.
He succeeded D.B. Wijetunga as Prime Minister in 1993, following the assassination of former President Ranasinghe Premadasa and Wijetunga became the President of the country. Wickremesinghe was appointed as the Opposition Leader after the assassination of Gamini Dissanayake during the propaganda campaign of the Presidential Election in November 1994.
In the General Election held in 2001, the UNF led by Wickremesinghe secured 109 seats and Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the 17th Prime Minister.
He was appointed as Prime Minister by President Maithripala Sirisena in January 2015. Wickremesinghe was removed as Prime Minister on 26 October 2018 with the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, which Wickremesinghe refused to accept, resulting in a constitutional crisis. The constitutional crisis ended with Sirisena re-appointing Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister on 16 December 2018.
He contested the following Parliamentary Election in 2020, but failed to secure a seat in Parliament. He received less than 30,000 votes in the election.
By Naalir Jamaldeen