President of Sri Lanka

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President of Sri Lanka
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg
Emblem of Sri Lanka
Mahinda Rajapaksa.jpg
Mahinda Rajapaksa

since November 19, 2005
Style His Excellency the President
Residence President's House
Term length Six years, renewable
Inaugural holder William Gopallawa
22 May 1972
Formation 22 May 1972; 42 years ago (1972-05-22)
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

The President of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhala: Sri Lankavay Janadhipathi) is the elected head of state and the head of government. The President is a dominant political figure in Sri Lanka. The office was created in 1978. The current President is Mahinda Rajapaksa.


At independence, executive power in Ceylon resided with the monarch of Ceylon, represented by the Governor-General, which was exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. The 1972 constitution removed the monarch and replaced the governor-general with a president, but it remained a mostly ceremonial position.

The 1978 constitution moved from a Westminster-based political system into one modeled on France. As in France, a new, directly elected President with a longer term and independence from Parliament was created. The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of the Cabinet, appoints the prime minister, and could dissolve parliament (after one year has passed since the convening of parliament after a parliamentary election)[citation needed] The 17th constitutional amendment of 2001 reduced certain powers of the President in particular in regard to the appointment of the upper judiciary and independent commissions such as the election commission or the bribery and corruption commission. After 2005 this amendment has been illegally ignored by the president.

In practice, the Sri Lankan presidency was much more powerful than the President of France. French presidents traditionally deal only with defense and foreign policy, leaving domestic affairs to the Prime Minister. Sri Lankan presidents are involved with every aspect of the government and are able to hold cabinet portfolios, or can bypass the cabinet posts by delegating decisions to the Presidential Secretariat.


Presidents have little constraints on their power and they cannot be taken to court. However they can be impeached by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. They can place the country in a state of emergency, under which they can override any law passed and promulgate any regulation without needing legislative approval. However, to prolong the state of emergency for more than a month parliamentary approval is needed.

At the opening of Parliament, the President delivers an address similar to a Speech from the Throne, outlining government policy.

The President has the power to appoint Attorneys-at-Laws to the position of President's Counsel and military personnel to the post of Aide de Camp to the President.

In the 1994 election, Chandrika Kumaratunga of the People's Alliance promised to be the last Executive President, bringing in constitutional reforms to return to Westminster-style government. This did not happen during her time in office. While some political parties have expressed their concerns on the executive presidency, its abolition is unlikely within the current Sri Lankan political framework.[citation needed]


The Old Parliament Building the near the Galle Face Green, now the Presidential Secretariat

The official residence of the president is the President's House (formally the Queen's House as the residences of the Governor General) in Colombo. However the president's office is the Presidential Secretariat which is at the former Parliament building in Colombo, where many formal functions takes place. Other presidential residences include:

In recent years from time to time Prime Minister's House, commonly referred to as Temple Tree's, which has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since 1948, has been used by presidents.

List of Presidents[edit]

Last election[edit]

First President of Sri Lanka J.R.Jayawardana
e • d Summary of the 2010 Sri Lankan presidential election
Candidate Party Votes  %
  Mahinda Rajapaksa United People's Freedom Alliance 6,015,934 57.88%
  Sarath Fonseka New Democratic Front 4,173,185 40.15%
Mohomad Cassim Mohomad Ismail Democratic United National Front 39,226 0.38%
Achala Ashoka Suraweera National Development Front 26,266 0.25%
Channa Janaka Sugathsiri Gamage United Democratic Front 23,290 0.22%
W. V. Mahiman Ranjith Independent 18,747 0.18%
A. S. P Liyanage Sri Lanka Labour Party 14,220 0.14%
Sarath Manamendra New Sinhala Heritage 9,684 0.09%
  M. K. Shivajilingam Independent 9,662 0.09%
Ukkubanda Wijekoon Independent 9,381 0.09%
Lal Perera Our National Front 9,353 0.09%
  Siritunga Jayasuriya United Socialist Party 8,352 0.08%
  Vikramabahu Karunaratne Left Front 7,055 0.07%
Aithurus M. Illias Independent 6,131 0.06%
  Wije Dias Socialist Equality Party 4,195 0.04%
Sanath Pinnaduwa National Alliance 3,523 0.03%
M. Mohamed Musthaffa Independent 3,134 0.03%
Battaramulle Seelarathana Thero Jana Setha Peramuna 2,770 0.03%
Senaratna de Silva Patriotic National Front 2,620 0.03%
Aruna de Zoyza Ruhuna People's Party 2,618 0.03%
Upali Sarath Kongahage United National Alternative Front 2,260 0.02%
Muthu Bandara Theminimulla All Are Citizens, All Are Kings Organisation 2,007 0.02%
Valid Votes 10,393,613 100.00%
Rejected Votes 101,838
Total Polled 10,495,451
Registered Electors 14,088,500
Turnout 74.50%
Source: Department of Elections, Sri Lanka

See also[edit]

External links[edit]