Ranasinghe Premadasa

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Ranasinghe Premadasa
Ranasinghe Premadasa.jpg
3rd President of Sri Lanka
In office
2 January 1989 – 1 May 1993
Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
Preceded by Junius Richard Jayewardene
Succeeded by Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
In office
6 February 1978 – 2 January 1989
President Junius Richard Jayewardene
Preceded by Junius Richard Jayewardene
Succeeded by Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
Member of Parliament
for Colombo Central
In office
22 March 1965 – 2 January 1989
Preceded by Razik Fareed
Succeeded by constituency abolished
In office
19 March 1960 – 20 July 1960
Preceded by M.S. Themis
Succeeded by Razik Fareed
Personal details
Born (1924-06-23)23 June 1924
Colombo, British Ceylon
(now in Sri Lanka)
Died 1 May 1993(1993-05-01) (aged 68)
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Nationality Sri Lanka Sri Lankan
Political party United National Party
Spouse(s) Hema Premadasa
(nee Wickrematunge)
Children Sajith, Dulanjali
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Sri Lankabhimanya Ranasinghe Premadasa (Sinhala: රණසිංහ ප්‍රේමදාස,Tamil: ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாசா; 23 June 1924 – 1 May 1993) was the 3rd President of Sri Lanka from 2 January 1989 to 1 May 1993. Before that, he served as the Prime Minister in the government headed by J. R. Jayewardene from 6 February 1978 to 1 January 1989. He was assassinated in Colombo in a suicide bombing, by the LTTE.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Ranasinghe Premadasa came from a family of modest means, as such his political rise was resented by some of his rivals from the two or three Rajaka - He belong's to Dhobies, Wasermans caste families who had inherited political power, during and post British colonial rule. He attended St Joseph's College, Colombo which at that time had started an oriental languages course. Richard Ranasingha wished his son to follow this course. He originally planned to be a journalist, and translated an autobiography of Jawaharlal Nehru into Sinhala.

Premadasa was married to Hema Wickramatunge and had two children .Sajith and daughter Dulanjali. His son, is the UNP MP for Hambantota District & former deputy Leader of the United National Party.

Political career[edit]

Premadasa's entry into politics was made from the Labour Party, then headed by A. Ekanayake Gunasinha. Having realized that the Labour Party in the 1950s didn't have a very promising future, Premadasa joined the moderate United National Party, and became the first non-Govigama politician to reach to the highest levels in democratic, post-independence Sri Lanka.

During his tenure as Minister of Broadcasting in Dudley Senanayake's cabinet, Premadasa turned Radio Ceylon, the oldest radio station in South Asia, into a public corporation - the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation on 5 January 1967.

Part of his political program was shelter for the poor, after the United Nations declared a Year of Shelter. Other policies included Jana Saviya, the instrument he used to help the poor, a foster parents scheme, the Gam Udawa project with which he tried to stir up the stupor in the villages, the mobile secretariat whereby he took the central government bureaucracy to the peasants, the Tower Hall Foundation for drama and music, and the pension schemes he initiated for the elder artistes. On the economic front, the garment industry project that he initiated became a forerunner in earning foreign exchange and provision of employment in the villages. This was just one step in the direction of taking the economy to the outstations.

Presidency[edit]

Premadasa met with less success in dealing with Sri Lanka's civil war. When he assumed office, he faced a rebellion in the south from the hardline Sinhala-nationalist, Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). The security forces brutally put down the revolt and killed many of its leaders. In the north, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were facing off against the Indian Peace-Keeping Force. The Indian presence on the island was unpopular, and Premadasa requested India to leave. In order to force IPKF to leave the island, he authorized a clandestine operation to supply arms to LTTE according to the report published by the Sri Lankan Presidential commission to inquire into the 1992 assassination of one of the senior most officers in the Sri Lankan army, Lt Gen Denzil Kobbekaduwa.[3] The inquiry also found that Premadasa ordered clandestine supply of arms to LTTE. In the end, LTTE massacred 774 policemen using the same weapons he had given to LTTE (the policemen were asked to surrender to LTTE in Batticaloa at Premadasa's request).[4][5] After the IPKF left in 1990, the government's war with the LTTE resumed, and resulted in stalemate.

Premadasa was well known for the unostentatious life led by him in his simple home, away from his luxurious official residence. He perhaps travelled less than any other leading Sri Lankan politician. During his presidency, he also expelled from the UNP his two formidable rivals Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake, who then joined to form the Democratic United National Front (DUNF). He was found to be involved in the assassination of Lalith Athulathmudali by a presidential commission appointed by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.[6][7]

Assassination[edit]

Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed on 1 May 1993, during a May day rally, by an LTTE suicide bomber.[2] Little more than a week before, Lalith Athulathmudali had also been assassinated.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Junius Richard Jayawardene
President of Sri Lanka
1989–1993
Succeeded by
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
Preceded by
Junius Richard Jayawardene
Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
1978–1989
Succeeded by
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga