Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka for the fourth time on 21st August 2015.
He is the Leader of the United National Party (UNP), Sri Lanka's largest political party, which is a constituent member of the National Unity Government led by H.E. the President Maithripala Sirisena.
Hon. Wickremesinghe was first appointed as the Prime Minister from 1993 - 1994 after the assassination of President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He was also elected as the Prime Minister from 2001 - 2004 when the United National Front Government won the general elections in 2001.
Born in 1949 after Sri Lanka gained independence from the British, Hon. Wickremesinghe, is truly a leader of the new independent era. A lawyer by profession, he was elected to Parliament in 1977 at the age of 28, having worked in the Youth League of the UNP from his university days. As the youngest Minister in Sri Lanka at the time, he held the post of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Jayewardene. Very soon, in recognition of his exceptional talents and unique capacity for work, he was appointed to the Cabinet as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment. Later on, he was given 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 the Minister of Industries, Science and Technology.
From 1977 to 1994, during the seventeen years that the UNP was consecutively returned to power, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe, as a dynamic young politician, had a crucial impact on the development of the country. He is still considered to be the best Education Minister of the country due to the radical educational reforms he initiated in the 1980s aimed at the qualitative improvement of school education (with a special focus on English, Technology and Computer skills) and the Education Administrative Service. He energised the young people in Sri Lanka with creative, motivational as well as skill development programs through youth clubs (Yovun Samajas) and youth camps (Yovunpuras).
Later on, as the Minister of Industries, Science and Technology, he was responsible for Sri Lanka's second round of economic liberalisation that commenced in 1989 with the focus on financial de-regularization and industrial promotion in rural areas through infrastructure development and the institution of industrial estates. As the MP for Biyagama, he dramatically developed his electorate to become a modern model suburb with brand new carpeted roads, electrification schemes, water and sanitation projects, schools, community centres and other infrastructure inputs. He also established the Biyagama Free Trade Zone to provide employment for thousands of young men and women in a range of industries.
Prime Minister Ranil
In 1993 after the untimely demise of President Premadasa, Hon.Ranil Wickremesinghe was appointed Prime Minister during the presidency of D. B. Wijetunge. Eveready for a challenge, the young Prime Minister rose to the responsibility of high office and he is credited for establishing law, order and stability in the country at this crucial juncture. During this short period, he personally drove the economy, and the country recorded its highest levels of economic growth for the decade.
Leader of the United National Party
After the UNP was voted out in 1994, Hon.Ranil Wickremesinghe became the Leader of the United National Party and the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Under his leadership, the UNP undertook extensive restructuring at institutional and grassroots levels and further democratised the Party to represent a more equitable balance in terms of ethnicity, gender and youth.
Prime Minister Again
In 2001, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe led his party back to power and was sworn in as Prime Minister once again. In spite of the fact that the President was from an opposing party exercising full executive powers and a strong Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe's most significant achievements were to restore full-time electricity, rejuvenate the ailing economy, break down the many ethnic barriers in the country, bring the warring LTTE to the negotiating table for peace talks, and galvanize the goodwill and financial support of the international community for Sri Lanka.
Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe was born on 24th March 1949. He is the second son of Esmond and Nalini Wickremesinghe and has three brothers and one sister. Esmond Wickremesinghe was an eminent press magnate and one time President of the International Press Institute and the winner of the Golden Pen of Freedom (the annual award to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the defence of press freedom). Nalini Wickremesinghe, the daughter of D R Wijewardene (one of the country's famed freedom fighters and the press baron who founded Sri Lanka's largest publishing house Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.), was a patron of the arts who contributed greatly to the revival of Sinhala drama, craft and culture from the 1950s - 1980s. In 1995 he married Maithree Wickramasinghe, a Professor at the Department of English, and the founding director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Kelaniya and an internationally known writer / speaker on gender and women's studies.
Education and Other Pursuits
Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe received his primary and secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. Having graduated from the University of Colombo with a Degree in Law, he enrolled as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1972, and then, practised as a lawyer for five years. In recent times, he has been a Robert E. Wilhelm Fellow at the Centre for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA. He was also appointed the Chair of the Asia Pacific Democrat Union and has been a (ex officio) Vice Chair of the International Democratic Union since 2005.
Commitments and Interests
Outside of politics, Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Chair of the Dhayakasabha of one of Sri Lanka's historic temples, the Kelaniya Vihara and a dhayakaya of Gangaramaya, Walukaramaya and the Weragodalla (Sedawatte) temples. He has written and spoken widely on Sri Lankan history, Buddhism and world politics. He is an avid reader - devouring books and web articles / news relating to regional politics, international affairs and world history on his cherished Ipad. He is interested in cutting-edge developments in all fields of knowledge globally and locally. He appreciates indigenous Sinhala music, western classics and opera as well as Bollywood songs. Hon. Ranil Wickremesinghe enjoys native and international cuisine as well as travelling to places of historical interest along with his wife.
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