List of prime ministers of Sri Lanka

There have been fifteen prime ministers of Sri Lanka since the creation of the position in 1947, prior to the independence of Ceylon. The prime minister of Ceylon was the head of the government until 1972. In 1972, the country was renamed as the Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka, and the position was known as the prime minister of Sri Lanka from then onwards. The prime minister also held the unified Ministry of External Affairs and Defence until 1977, when the government of J.R. Jayewardene split the ministry into two ministries, forming the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

  • Top left: D. S. Senanayake became the first prime minister of Ceylon in 1947.
  • Top right: Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the first female prime minister of Ceylon and also its longest-serving prime minister, holding the office on three separate occasions.
  • Bottom left: Ranasinghe Premadasa was the longest uninterrupted serving prime minister, holding office for over 10 years from 1978 to 1989.
  • Bottom right: Ranil Wickremesinghe has served as prime minister four separate times and has been sworn in on six occasions, the most of any Sri Lankan prime minister.

In 1978, after Jayewardene became the president, new constitutional changes were introduced. The position of the executive president was introduced, resulting in the powers of the prime minister being reduced. The president became the head of state and chief executive,[1] and the prime minister became a weak head of government.[2]

Under the current constitution of Sri Lanka, the prime minister is the leader of the Cabinet business and also functions as a deputy to the president. In the event a president dies in office, the prime minister becomes the acting president until the Parliament convenes to elect a successor or new elections can be held to elect a new president. Such was the case in 1993, when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated and Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga took office as president.[3]

On 28 April 2015, the Parliament approved the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka which gives the power of the government to the prime minister, while the president remains the head of state, head of the Cabinet, and commander-in-chief.[4]

Of the fourteen prime ministers who have held the office since the introduction of the position in 1947, one has held the office four times, two have held office thrice, and two have held office twice. Six prime ministers have gone on to become president of the country.[5]

Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as prime minister the most times in the country's history, on six occasions (May 1993, December 2001, January 2015, August 2015, December 2018, and May 2022),[6][7] whilst Dudley Shelton Senanayaka and Sirimavo Bandaranayake were appointed three times. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only prime minister who was suspended from his duties by the Supreme Court,[8][9][10] becoming the first de facto prime minister of Sri Lanka in 2018.

List of prime ministers

Parties

  United National Party (7)   Sri Lanka Freedom Party (7)   Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (1)   Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (1)

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office
Electoral mandates
Time in office
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
(Alliance)
Government Refs
1 D. S. Senanayake
දොන් ස්ටීවන් සේනානායක
டான் ஸ்டீபன் சேனாநாயக்க
(1883–1952)
Mirigama
24 September
1947
22 March
1952
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party D. S. Senanayake 1st [11]
1947
4 years, 5 months and 27 days
The first Prime Minister of Ceylon. The country gained independence from United Kingdom during his term of office.[12]
2 Dudley Senanayake
ඩඩ්ලි ෂෙල්ටන් සෙනානායක
டட்லி சேனநாயக்கா
(1911–1973)
Dedigama
26 March
1952
12 October
1953
Minister of External Affairs and Defence
Minister of Agriculture & Lands
& Minister of Health & Local Government
United National Party Dudley Senanayake I 1st
2nd
[11]
1952
1 year, 6 months and 16 days
Appointed as Prime Minister following the death of his father, D. S. Senanayake. His party won at the general elections held in June 1952, and he continued in the office without a re-appointment. Dudley Senanayake resigned in 1953.[13]
3 Sir John Kotelawala
ශ්‍රිමත් ජෝන් කොතලාවල
சேர் ஜோன் கொத்தலாவலை
CH, KBE, KStJ, CLI
(1897–1980)
Dodangaslanda
12 October
1953
12 April
1956
Minister of External Affairs and Defence
& Minister of Transport & Works
United National Party Kotelawala 2nd [11]
 
2 years and 6 months
Sri Lanka joined the United Nations under the leadership of Kotelawala.[14]
4 S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike
සොලමන් වෙස්ට් රිජ්වේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක
சாலமன் வெஸ்ட் ரிட்ஜ்வே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கா
(1899–1959)
Attanagalla
12 April
1956
26 September
1959†
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(Mahajana Eksath Peramuna)
S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike 3rd [11]
1956
3 years, 5 months and 14 days
Bandaranaike changed the official language of the country from English to Sinhalese. He was assassinated before his term of office ended.[15]
5 Wijeyananda Dahanayake
විජයානන්ද දහනායක
விஜயானந்த தகநாயக்கா
(1902–1997)
Galle
26 September
1959
20 March
1960
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Dahanayake 3rd [11]
 
5 months and 23 days
Dahanayake was appointed following the assassination of Bandaranaike. However, following disagreements with the members of his government and party, he was forced to dissolve the parliament.[16]
(2) Dudley Senanayake
ඩඩ්ලි සේනානායක
டட்லி சேனநாயக்கா
(1911–1973)
Dedigama
21 March
1960
21 July
1960
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party Dudley Senanayake II 4th [11]
March 1960
4 months
Senanayake's government was defeated after one month. Senanayake continued to serve as prime minister until 21 July 1960.
6 Sirimavo Bandaranaike
සිරිමාවො රත්වත්තේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක
சிறிமா ரத்வத்தே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கே
(1916–2000)
21 July
1960
25 March
1965
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Sri Lanka Freedom Party Sirimavo Bandaranaike I 5th [11]
July 1960
4 years, 8 months and 4 days
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the world's first female prime minister.[17] She was not a member of Parliament at the time of appointment, and was appointed to the Senate on 2 August 1960.
(2) Dudley Senanayake
ඩඩ්ලි සේනානායක
டட்லி சேனநாயக்கா
(1911–1973)
Dedigama
25 March
1965
29 May
1970
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party Dudley Senanayake III 6th [11]
1965
5 years, 2 months and 4 days
Senanayake was elected prime minister for the third time, when his party formed a government with the help of six other parties, after an election which did not give a clear majority to any party. The agriculture sector was given high priority during his term of office.[18]
(6) Sirimavo Bandaranaike
සිරිමාවො රත්වත්තේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක
சிறிமா ரத்வத்தே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கே
(1916–2000)
Attanagalla
29 May
1970
23 July
1977
Minister of External Affairs and Defence
& Minister of Planning & Employment
Sri Lanka Freedom Party Sirimavo Bandaranaike II 7th [11]
1970
7 years, 1 month and 24 days
Sirimavo Bandaranaike declared the country a republic, and its name was changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.[17] Nationalized many companies in the plantation sector and imposed restrictions on several imports. This led to the downfall of the country's economy, and she was defeated in the general elections of 1977.[17]
7 Junius Richard Jayewardene
ජුනියස් රිචඩ් ජයවර්ධන
ஜூனியஸ் ரிச்சட் ஜயவர்தனா
(1906–1996)
Colombo West
23 July
1977
4 February
1978
Minister of Defence
Minister of Planning & Economic Affairs
& Minister of Plan Implementation
United National Party Jayewardene 8th [11]
1977
6 months and 12 days
Introduced the executive presidency in 1978 and became president.[19]
8 Ranasinghe Premadasa
රණසිංහ ප්‍රේමදාස
ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாசா
(1924–1993)
Colombo Central
6 February
1978
2 January
1989
Minister of Local Government, Housing & Construction United National Party Jayewardene 8th [11]
 
10 years, 10 months and 27 days
Was the first prime minister to be appointed after the constitutional changes of 1978, with powers of the position reduced significantly.[20]
9
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
ඩිංගිරි බණ්ඩා විජේතුංග
டிங்கிரி பண்ட விஜேதுங்க
(1916–2008)
Kandy
6 March
1989
7 May
1993
Minister of Finance
& Minister of Labour & Vocational Training
United National Party Premadasa 9th [11]
1989
4 years, 2 months and 1 day
Was appointed in a surprise move by President Ranasinghe Premadasa. Wijetunge himself reacted in surprise at the appointment.[3] He resigned from the post on 28 March 1990 but was reappointed two days later, on 30 March 1990.
10 Ranil Wickremesinghe
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ
ரணில் விக்ரமசிங்க
(1949–)
Gampaha
7 May
1993
19 August
1994
United National Party Wijetunga 9th [11]
 
1 year, 3 months and 12 days
Appointed as the prime minister[21] when Wijetunge was appointed as the president of Sri Lanka, following the assassination of the former president, Ranasinghe Premadasa.
11 Chandrika Kumaratunga
චන්ද්‍රිකා බණ්ඩාරනායක කුමාරතුංග
சந்திரிகா பண்டாரநாயக்கே குமாரதுங்கா
(1945–)
Gampaha
19 August
1994
12 November
1994
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Wijetunga 10th [11]
1994
2 months and 24 days
Served as the prime minister of Sri Lanka for a short period, before contesting in the presidential elections in 1994 and being elected as president.[22]
(6) Sirimavo Bandaranaike
සිරිමාවො රත්වත්තේ ඩයස් බණ්ඩාරනායක
சிறிமா ரத்வத்தே டயஸ் பண்டாரநாயக்கே
(1916–2000)
National List
14 November
1994
9 August
2000
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Kumaratunga 10th [11]
 
5 years, 8 months and 26 days
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was appointed as the prime minister when Chandrika Kumaratunga was appointed as the president of Sri Lanka. She resigned in 2000.[17]
12 Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
රත්නසිරි වික්‍රමනායක
ரத்னசிறி விக்கிரமநாயக்க
(1933–2016)
Kalutara
10 August
2000
7 December
2001
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Kumaratunga 10th
11th
[11]
2000
1 year, 3 months and 27 days
Wickremanayake assumed the office of the prime minister following the resignation of Sirimavo Bandaranaike.[2]
(10) Ranil Wickremesinghe
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ
ரணில் விக்ரமசிங்க
(1949–)
Colombo
9 December
2001
6 April
2004
United National Party
(United National Front)
Kumaratunga 12th [11]
2001
2 years, 3 months and 28 days
Wickremesinghe's term of office ended early when President Chandrika Kumaratunga dismissed his government and called for a general election in 2004.[23]
13 Mahinda Rajapaksa
මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ
மஹிந்த ராஜபக்ஷ
(1945–)
Hambantota
6 April
2004
19 November
2005
Ministry of Highways Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Kumaratunga 13th [11]
2004
1 year, 7 months and 13 days
Appointed as prime minister of the Cabinet that was formed after the elections following the dismissal of Wickremesinghe's government by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. He won the presidential elections in 2005 and assumed the presidency.[24]
(12) Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
රත්නසිරි වික්‍රමනායක
ரத்னசிறி விக்கிரமநாயக்க
(1933–2016)
National List
19 November
2005
21 April
2010
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Mahinda Rajapaksa 13th [11]
 
4 years, 5 months and 2 days
Appointed as prime minister when Rajapaksa assumed the presidency.[2]
14 D. M. Jayaratne
දිසානායක මුදියන්සේලාගේ ජයරත්න
திசாநாயக்க முதியன்சேலாகே ஜயரத்ன
(1931–2019)
National List
21 April
2010
9 January
2015
Minister of Buddhasasana & Religious Affairs Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Mahinda Rajapaksa 14th [11]
2010
4 years, 8 months and 19 days
Appointed as prime minister after the parliamentary election held in April 2010 was won by the incumbent Freedom Party.
(10) Ranil Wickremesinghe
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ
ரணில் விக்ரமசிங்க
(1949–)
Colombo
9 January
2015
26 October
2018
Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs United National Party
(United National Front for Good Governance)
Sirisena I 14th [11]
2015 Sirisena II 15th
3 years, 9 months and 17 days
Appointed as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena after winning 2015 presidential election and was re-elected in the 2015 parliamentary election. 2018 Sri Lankan constitutional crisis
(13) Mahinda Rajapaksa
මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ
மஹிந்த ராஜபக்ஷ
(1945–)
Kurunegala (de facto)
26 October
2018
15 December
2018
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Sirisena III 15th [11]
1 month and 19 days
Appointed by Sirisena, after sudden dismissal of incumbent Wickremesinghe. Term was challenged by Wickremesinghe and Sri Lanka had two concurrent prime ministerial claimants. Failed to conduct a majority support vote in the house. Subsequently, resigned from office, to pave way for Wickremesinghe.[25] Duties suspended by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka.[26] 2018 Sri Lankan constitutional crisis
(10) Ranil Wickremesinghe
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ
ரணில் விக்ரமசிங்க
(1949–)
Colombo
16 December
2018
21 November
2019
Minister of National Policies and Economic Affairs United National Party
(United National Front for Good Governance)
Sirisena IV 15th [11]
 
11 months and 5 days
Restored as prime minister after the 2018 Sri Lankan constitutional crisis.
(13) Mahinda Rajapaksa
මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ
மஹிந்த ராஜபக்ஷ
(1945–)
Kurunegala
21 November
2019
9 May
2022
Minister of Finance
Minister of Urban Development & Housing
Minister of Buddhasasana, Religious & Cultural Affairs
Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna
Gotabaya Rajapaksa I 15th [11]
2020 Gotabaya Rajapaksa II 16th
2 years, 5 months and 18 days Gotabaya Rajapaksa III
Appointed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, following the resignation of Ranil Wickremesinghe after the 2019 Sri Lankan presidential election and was re-appointed following the 2020 Sri Lankan parliamentary election. Most of his tenure was plagued with major economic and political crises. Resigned amidst the 2022 Sri Lankan protests.
(10) Ranil Wickremesinghe
රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ
ரணில் விக்ரமசிங்க
(1949–)
National List
12 May
2022
20 July
2022
Minister of Finance United National Party Gotabaya Rajapaksa IV 16th [11]
 
2 months and 8 days
Appointed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, following the resignation of Mahinda Rajapaksa amidst the 2022 Sri Lankan political crisis. On 13 July 2022, he became the acting president of the republic as Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country amidst protests and was outright elected as president a week later.
15 Dinesh Gunawardena
දිනේෂ් ගුණවර්ධන
தினேஷ் குணவர்தன
(1949–)
Colombo
22 July
2022
Incumbent Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Provincial Councils and Local Government Mahajana Eksath Peramuna Wickremesinghe 16th [11]
 
6 months and 9 days
Appointed by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Timeline

Dinesh GunawardenaD. M. JayaratneMahinda RajapaksaRatnasiri WickremanayakeChandrika KumaratungaRanil WickremesingheDingiri Banda WijetungaRanasinghe PremadasaJunius Richard JayewardeneSirimavo BandaranaikeWijeyananda DahanayakeS. W. R. D. BandaranaikeSir John KotelawalaDudley SenanayakeDon Stephen Senanayake

See also

Notes

  1. The Parliament was known as the "House of Representatives" during the period of 1947–1972
  2. In 1972, the country was named "Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka", and the Parliament was named as the National State Assembly.
  3. Under the constitutional changes of 1978, the country was renamed as the "Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka", and the Parliament was referred to as "Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka".

References

General
Specific
  1. V. Jayanth (2003-11-15). "Sri Lanka's executive presidency"[Usurped!]. The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  2. V.S. Sambandan (2005-11-22). "Ratnasiri Wickremanayake appointed Sri Lankan Premier" Archived 10 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  3. M.B. Dassanayake (2008-09-22). "Dingiri Banda Wijetunga - the journey to greatness" Archived 27 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine. Daily News. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  4. "Sri Lanka: 19A to the Constitution passed in parliament".
  5. Wanniarachchi, Lakruwan. "Sri Lanka's new president gets down to mending ties". 10 January 2015. Business Insider AFP. Archived from the original on 13 January 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  6. "International News, Breaking World News, Latest International News". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 22 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  7. Jayasinghe, Uditha; Pal, Alasdair (12 May 2022). "He's back: Wickremesinghe named Sri Lankan PM for 6th time amid crisis". Reuters.
  8. "Sri Lankan court bars Rajapakse from working as PM". 4 December 2018. Archived from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  9. "Sri Lanka temporarily bars Rajapaksa from acting as PM". Archived from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  10. "Sri Lanka court denies Rajapakse authority to act as PM". Archived from the original on 30 October 2019. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  11. "Prime Ministers". Parliament.lk. Archived from the original on 30 August 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  12. "Senanayake, Don Stephen (1884–1952)" Archived 27 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. The History Channel. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  13. Buddhika Kurukularatne (2007-06-19). "Dudley – the reluctant Prince" Archived 3 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine. Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  14. K. T. Rajasingham (2001-11-17). "Sri Lanka: The Untold Story" Archived 26 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine. Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  15. "Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias". history.com. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  16. "Short Term" Archived 26 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Time. 1959-12-14. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  17. "Sirimavo Bandaranaike: First woman premier" Archived 6 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. 2000-10-10. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  18. Neville de Silva. "A Prime Minister who knew his onions" Archived 29 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine . UK Lanka Times. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  19. "Former Sri Lanka president dies, leaves mixed legacy" . CNN. 1996-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  20. Barbara Crossette (1988-12-21). "MAN IN THE NEWS: Ranasinghe Premadasa; Sri Lankan At the Top". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  21. "Profile: Ranil Wickramasinghe" Archived 2 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine. BBC News. 2005-11-22. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  22. "Hon Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (1994–2005)" Archived 3 June 2004 at the Wayback Machine . The official website of the Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  23. "Sri Lanka" Archived 22 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine . The History Channel. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  24. "President's Profile" Archived 4 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine . The President's Fund of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  25. "Sri Lanka parliament passes no-confidence motion against Mahinda Rajapaksa". 14 November 2018. Archived from the original on 29 August 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  26. "SC grants leave to proceed with Mahinda's appeal". Archived from the original on 9 June 2019. Retrieved 16 December 2018.

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