List of Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka

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Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Sri Lanka

There have been fourteen Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka since the creation of the position in 1947, prior to the formation of the Dominion of Ceylon. The Prime Minister of Ceylon was the head of the government until 1978. In 1972, the country was named 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 J.R. Jayewardene's government adapted two separate ministries, forming the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 1978, the then Prime Minister J.R. Jayewardene introduced new constitutional changes. 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 head of government,[1] and the Prime Minister became a nominal position.[2]

Under the current constitution of Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister is the Head of the Cabinet and 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 could be held to elect a new president. This was the case in 1993, when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated and Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunge took office as President.[3]

Of the fourteen Prime Ministers who have held office since the introduction of the position in 1947, two have held office thrice, and two have held office twice. Five Prime Ministers have gone on to become President of the country. The current Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is Disanayaka Mudiyanselage Jayaratne, since 21 April 2010.[4]

List of Prime Ministers[edit]

Parties

      United National Party       Sri Lanka Freedom Party

No. Portrait Name
(Birth–Death)
Constituency/Title
Term of office

Electoral mandates
Other ministerial offices
held while Prime Minister
Political party
of PM
(Alliance)
Government Refs
1 Official Photographic Portrait of Don Stephen Senanayaka (1884-1952).jpg Don Stephen Senanayake
(1884–1952)
Mirigama
24 September
1947
22 March
1952
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party D. S. Senanayake 3rd [4]
1947
The first Prime Minister of Ceylon. The country gained independence from Great Britain during his term of office.[5]
2 Dudley Shelton Senanayaka (1911-1973).jpg Dudley Senanayake
(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 3rd
4th
[4]
1952
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.[6]
3 John Kotelawala
(1897–1980)
Dodangaslanda
12 October
1953
12 April
1956
Minister of External Affairs and Defence
& Minister of Minister of Transport & Works
United National Party Kotelawala 4th [4]
 —
Sri Lanka joined the United Nations under the leadership of Kotelawala.[7]
4 Official Photographic Portrait of S.W.R.D.Bandaranayaka (1899-1959).jpg Solomon Bandaranaike
(1899–1959)
Attanagalla
12 April
1956
26 September
1959
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Sri Lanka Freedom Party S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike 5th [4]
1956
Bandaranaike changed the official language of the country from English to Sinhalese. He was assassinated before his term of office ended.[8]
5 Wijeyananda Dahanayake portrait.jpg Wijeyananda Dahanayake
(1902–1997)
Galle
26 September
1959
20 March
1960
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Sri Lanka Freedom Party Dahanayake 5th [4]
 —
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.[9]
6 Dudley Shelton Senanayaka (1911-1973).jpg Dudley Senanayake
(1911–1973)
Dedigama
21 March
1960
21 July
1960
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party Dudley Senanayake II 6th [4]
March 1960
Senanayake's government was defeated after one month. Senanayake continued to serve as Prime Minister until 21 July 1960.
7 Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranayaka (1916-2000) (Hon.Sirimavo Bandaranaike with Hon.Lalith Athulathmudali Crop).jpg Sirimavo Bandaranaike
(1916–2000)
21 July
1960
25 March
1965
Minister of External Affairs and Defence Sri Lanka Freedom Party Sirimavo Bandaranaike I 7th [4]
July 1960
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the world's first female prime minister.[10] She was not a member of Parliament at the time of appointment, and was appointed to the Senate on 2 August 1960.
8 Dudley Shelton Senanayaka (1911-1973).jpg Dudley Senanayake
(1911–1973)
Dedigama
25 March
1965
29 May
1970
Minister of External Affairs and Defence United National Party Dudley Senanayake III 8th [4]
1965
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.[11]
9 Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranayaka (1916-2000) (Hon.Sirimavo Bandaranaike with Hon.Lalith Athulathmudali Crop).jpg Sirimavo Bandaranaike
(1916–2000)
Attanagalla
29 May
1970
22 May
1972
Minister of External Affairs and Defence
& Minister of Planning & Employment
Sri Lanka Freedom Party Sirimavo Bandaranaike II 9th [4]
22 May
1972
23 July
1977
10th
1970
Sirimavo Bandaranaike declared the country a republic, and its name was changed from Ceylon to Sri Lanka.[10] 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, with allegations of corruption which later led to her expulsion from Parliament.[10]
10 Junius Richard Jayawardana (1906-1996).jpg Junius Richard Jayewardene
(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 11th [4]
1977
Introduced the Executive Presidency in 1978, and assumed the position of President of Sri Lanka.[12]
11 Ranasinghe Premadasa
(1924–1993)
Colombo Central
6 February
1978
2 January
1989
Minister of Local Government, Housing & Construction United National Party Jayewardene 11th
12th
[4]
 —
Was the first Prime Minister to be appointed after the constitutional changes of 1978, with powers of the position reduced significantly.[13]
12 Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
(1916–2008)
Kandy
6 March
1989
7 May
1993
Minister of Finance
& Minister of Labour & Vocational Training
United National Party Premadasa 13th [4]
1989
Was appointed in a surprise move by the then 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.
13 Defense.gov News Photo 031103-D-2987S-069.jpg Ranil Wickremasinghe
(1949–)
Gampaha
7 May
1993
19 August
1994
United National Party Wijetunga 13th [4]
 —
Appointed as the Prime Minister[14] when Wijetunge was appointed as the President of Sri Lanka, following the assassination of the former President, Ranasinghe Premadasa.
14 Chandrika Kumaratunga.jpg Chandrika Kumaratunga
(1945–)
Gampaha
19 August
1994
12 November
1994
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Wijetunga 14th [4]
1994
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.[15]
15 Sirimavo Ratwatte Dias Bandaranayaka (1916-2000) (Hon.Sirimavo Bandaranaike with Hon.Lalith Athulathmudali Crop).jpg Sirimavo Bandaranaike
(1916–2000)
National List
14 November
1994
9 August
2000
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Kumaratunga 14th [4]
 —
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was appointed as the Prime Minister when Chandrika Kumaratunga was appointed as the President of Sri Lanka. She resigned in 2000.[10]
16 Ratnasiri Wickremanayake1.jpg Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
(1933–)
Kalutara
10 August
2000
7 December
2001
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(People's Alliance)
Kumaratunga 14th
15th
[4]
2000
Wickremanayake assumed the office of the Prime Minister following the resignation of Sirimavo Bandaranaike.[2]
17 Defense.gov News Photo 031103-D-2987S-069.jpg Ranil Wickremasinghe
(1949–)
Colombo
9 December
2001
6 April
2004
United National Party Kumaratunga 16th [4]
2001
Wickremesinghe's term of office ended early when the then president Chandrika Kumaratunga dismissed his government and called for a general election in 2004.[16]
18 WEF on the Middle East Arab and foreign Ministers Crop.jpg Mahinda Rajapaksa
(1945–)
Hambantota
6 April
2004
19 November
2005
Ministry of Highways Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Kumaratunga 17th [4]
2004
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 office of the President of Sri Lanka.[17]
19 Ratnasiri Wickremanayake1.jpg Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
(1933–)
National List
19 November
2005
21 April
2010
Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Rajapaksa 17th [4]
 —
Appointed as Prime Minister when Rajapaksa assumed the office of the President of Sri Lanka.[2]
20 Disanayaka Mudiyanselage Jayaratne
(1931–)
National List
21 April
2010
Incumbent Minister of Buddhasasana & Religious Affairs Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(United People's Freedom Alliance)
Rajapaksa 18th [4]
2010
Appointed as Prime Minister after the parliamentary election held in April 2010 was won by the incumbent Freedom Party.

Living former Prime Ministers[edit]

Prime Minister Term of office Date of birth
Mahinda Rajapaksa 2004–2005 (1945-11-18) November 18, 1945 (age 68)
Ratnasiri Wickremanayake 2005–2010 (1933-05-05) May 5, 1933 (age 81)
Ranil Wickremasinghe 1993–1994 (1949-03-24) March 24, 1949 (age 65)
Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga 1994–1994 (1945-06-29) June 29, 1945 (age 69)

The most recent death of a former Prime Minister was that of Dingiri Banda Wijetunga (1989–1993) on 21 September 2008, aged 92.

Timeline[edit]

Disanayaka Jayaratne Ratnasiri Wickremanayake Mahinda Rajapaksa Ranil Wickremasinghe Ratnasiri Wickremanayake Sirimavo Bandaranaike Chandrika Kumaratunga Ranil Wickremasinghe Dingiri Banda Wijetunga Ranasinghe Premadasa Junius Richard Jayewardene Sirimavo Bandaranaike Sirimavo Bandaranaike Dudley Senanayake Sirimavo Bandaranaike Dudley Senanayake Wijeyananda Dahanayake S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike John Kotelawala Dudley Senanayake Don Stephen Senanayake

Notes[edit]

  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".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ V. Jayanth (2003-11-15). "Sri Lanka's executive presidency". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  2. ^ a b c V.S. Sambandan (2005-11-22). "Ratnasiri Wickremanayake appointed Sri Lankan Premier". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  3. ^ a b M.B. Dassanayake (2008-09-22). "Dingiri Banda Wijetunga - the journey to greatness". Daily News. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Prime Ministers". Parliament.lk. Retrieved 4 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Senanayake, Don Stephen (1884–1952)". The History Channel. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  6. ^ Buddhika Kurukularatne (2007-06-19). "Dudley – the reluctant Prince". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  7. ^ K. T. Rajasingham (2001-11-17). "Sri Lanka: The Untold Story". Asia Times Online. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  8. ^ "Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias". history.com. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  9. ^ "Short Term". Time. 1959-12-14. Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  10. ^ a b c d "Sirimavo Bandaranaike: First woman premier". BBC News. 2000-10-10. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  11. ^ Neville de Silva. "A Prime Minister who knew his onions". UK Lanka Times. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  12. ^ "Former Sri Lanka president dies, leaves mixed legacy". CNN. 1996-11-01. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  13. ^ Barbara Crossette (1988-12-21). "MAN IN THE NEWS: Ranasinghe Premadasa; Sri Lankan At the Top". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-05.
  14. ^ "Profile: Ranil Wickramasinghe". BBC News. 2005-11-22. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  15. ^ "Hon Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (1994–2005)". The official website of the Government of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  16. ^ "Sri Lanka". The History Channel. Retrieved 2008-10-04.
  17. ^ "President's Profile". The President's Fund of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 2008-10-04.