List of presidents 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.
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The President of Sri Lanka 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 1972, as more of a ceremonial position. It was empowered with executive powers by the 1978 Constitution introduced by J. R. Jayewardene. The current president is Gotabaya Rajapaksha, elected on November 16, 2019.



  United National Party   Sri Lanka Freedom Party   Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna   Independent

Portrait Name
Home province
Term of office
Electoral mandates
Time in office
Other ministerial offices
held while president
Political party
of president
Government Refs
President (non-executive) (1972-1978)
1 William Gopallawa.jpg William Gopallawa
විලියම් ගොපල්ලව
வில்லியம் கோபள்ளவா
22 May
4 February
Independent Sirimavo Bandaranaike II 10th [1]
5 years, 8 months and 13 days
Served as the last Governor-General of Ceylon and the first (non-executive) President when Ceylon declared itself a republic in 1972, and changed its name to Sri Lanka.
Executive President (1978-present)
2 Junius Richard Jayawardana (1906-1996).jpg Junius Richard Jayewardene
ජුනියස් රිචඩ් ජයවර්ධන
ஜூனியஸ் ரிச்சட் ஜயவர்தனா
4 February
2 January
Minister of Defence
Minister of Planning & Economic Affairs
Minister of Plan Implementation
& Minister of Higher Education
United National Party Jayewardene 11th
10 years, 11 months and 29 days
Introduced the Executive Presidency in 1978, and assumed the position of president of Sri Lanka.[2]
3 No image.png Sri Lankabhimanya
Ranasinghe Premadasa
රණසිංහ ප්‍රේමදාස
ரணசிங்க பிரேமதாசா
2 January
1 May
Minister of Defence
Minister of Buddha Sasana
& Minister of Minister of Policy Planning & Implementation
United National Party Premadasa 13th [1]
4 years and 4 months
Was assassinated during a May Day rally, by an LTTE suicide bomber.
4 No image.png Sri Lankabhimanya
Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
ඩිංගිරි බණ්ඩා විජේතුංග
டிங்கிரி பண்ட விஜேதுங்க
1 May
12 November
United National Party Wijetunga 13th [1]
 — 14th
1 year, 6 months and 10 days
Prime Minister at the time of Ranasinghe Premadasa's assassination by LTTE. Appointed as acting president and continued in that capacity until 7 May 1993 when he was elected by Parliament to the office of president under Article 40 of the Constitution.
5 Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga As The President of Sri Lanka.jpg Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
චන්ද්‍රිකා බණ්ඩාරනායක කුමාරතුංග
சந்திரிகா பண்டாரநாயக்கே குமாரதுங்கா
12 November
19 November
Sri Lanka Freedom Party Kumaratunga 14th
1994, 1999 16th
11 years and 7 days 17th
The first non UNP president of the country. Appointed her mother, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, to succeed her as prime minister. Victim of multiple assassination attempts by LTTE, which were all unsuccessful.


Mahinda Rajapaksa.jpg Mahinda Rajapaksa
මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂ
மகிந்த ராசபக்ச
19 November
9 January
Minister of Defence
Minister of Finance
Minister of Law & Order
& Minister of Highways, Ports & Shipping
Sri Lanka Freedom Party Mahinda Rajapaksa 17th
2005, 2010
9 years, 1 month and 21 days
Ended the 25-year-long Sri Lankan Civil War and LTTE insurgency in the country. Alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Infrastructure Development, Feud with Sarath Fonseka, Eighteenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, Impeachment of Shirani Bandaranayake, Defeated in 2015 elections.
7 Maithripala- Russia (cropped).jpg Maithripala Sirisena
මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන
மைத்திரிபால சிறிசேன
North Central
9 January
18 November
Minister of Defence
Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment
Sri Lanka Freedom Party[N 1] Sirisena
(UNP backed coalition)
18th [1]
2015 19th
4 years, 10 months and 9 days
Defeated Rajapaksa in his bid for unprecedented third term. Mainly backed by United National Party and other opposition parties nominated under New Democratic Front (Sri Lanka). Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka.100-day reform program. Reinstated Shirani Bandaranayake as Chief Justice. Promoted Sarath Fonseka to the rank of Field Marshal. Reset foreign relations with India and the United States.
8 Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa.jpg Gotabaya Rajapaksa
ගෝඨාභය රාජපක්ෂ
கோட்டாபய ராஜபக்ச
18 November
Incumbent Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna Gotabaya Rajapaksa I 19th [1]
2019 Gotabaya Rajapaksa II 20th
2 months and 17 days
Appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the prime minister after the resignation of Ranil Wickremasinghe.

Living former Presidents[edit]

President Term of office Date of birth
Chandrika Kumaratunga 1994–2005
4025 days
(1945-06-29) June 29, 1945 (age 74)
Mahinda Rajapaksa 2005–2015
3338 days
(1945-11-18) November 18, 1945 (age 74)
Maithripala Sirisena 2015–2019
1774 days
(1951-09-03) September 3, 1951 (age 68)

The most recent death of a former president was that of Dingiri Banda Wijetunga (1993–1994) on 21 September 2008, aged 92.


Gotabaya RajapaksaMaithripala SirisenaMahinda RajapaksaChandrika KumaratungaDingiri Banda WijetungaRanasinghe PremadasaJunius Richard JayewardeneWilliam Gopallawa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Elected as a New Democratic Front candidate.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Heads of State". Parliament of Sri Lanka. Retrieved 29 December 2013.
  2. ^ "Former Sri Lanka president dies, leaves mixed legacy". CNN. 1 November 1996. Retrieved 4 October 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ "Presidential candidates cast their votes". News First. Retrieved 2019-12-02.

External links[edit]