Prime Minister of Sri Lanka

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Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
ශ්‍රී ලංකා අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය
இலங்கை பிரதமர்
Emblem of Sri Lanka.svg
Flag of Sri Lanka.svg
R Wickremasinghe.jpg
Ranil Wickremesinghe

since 9 January 2015
Style Mr. Prime Minister
The Honourable
(Formal and diplomatic)
Member of Cabinet
National Security Council
Reports to Parliament
Residence Temple Trees
Seat Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte
Nominator Parliament of Sri Lanka
Appointer President of Sri Lanka
Term length Five years
Constituting instrument Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Precursor Leader of the House, State Council of Ceylon
Inaugural holder Don Stephen Senanayake
Formation 14 October 1947; 70 years ago (1947-10-14)
Succession First in the
presidential line of succession
Salary LKR 858,000 annually (2016)[1][2]
Website Prime Minister's Office
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 Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhalese: ශ්‍රී ලංකා අග්‍රාමාත්‍ය Sri Lanka Agramathya; Tamil: இலங்கை பிரதமர்) is the most senior member of parliament in the cabinet of ministers in Sri Lanka which is collectively accountable for their policies and actions to parliament. The President is both head of state and head of government in Sri Lanka. Since 1978, most prime ministers have served as mere deputies to the executive presidency, while at times served as the de-facto head of government. The current holder of the office, Ranil Wickremesinghe, leader of the United National Party, was appointed by Maithripala Sirisena on 9 January 2015. This was the third time that Wickramasinghe was appointed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.


The president will appoint a member of parliament as prime minister, who in the President’s opinion, "is most likely to command the confidence of Parliament". The prime minister will continue to hold office throughout the period during which the cabinet of ministers continues to function under the provisions of the constitution unless he/she resigns from the post or ceases to be a member of parliament.[3]

Powers and role[edit]

The prime minister is the second in the order of precedence after the president. The prime minister would be a member of the constitutional council, National Security Council and the senior most member cabinet of ministers after the president who is the head of the cabinet.

Since 1978, the prime minister is no longer the head of government and would serve as the deputy to the president if both are from the same political party. In certain occasions, when the president is not from the majority party in parliament or a national government is formed, the prime minister would be appointed from a party different to the president. In such a situations the prime minister would serve as the de-facto head of government.[3]

Principal adviser to the president[edit]

By the constitution, the Prime Minister holds formal power to advise the president on:

  • Appoint, dismiss, or accept the resignation of cabinet and non-cabinet ministers.[3]
  • The number of cabinet ministers and their subjects.[3]

Presidential succession[edit]

As per the constitution, if the office of president becomes vacant, the prime minister would "act in the office of President during the period between the occurrence of such vacancy and the assumption of office by the new President and shall appoint one of the other Ministers of the Cabinet to act in the office of Prime Minister". In such as situation, the office of Prime Minister is vacant or the prime minister is unable to act, the Speaker shall act in the office of President.[3]

The president may appoint the prime minister to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of the office of President for a period during the president is unable to exercise, perform and discharge the powers, duties and functions of his office due to illness, absence from Sri Lanka or any other cause.[3]

Privileges of office[edit]


The Prime Minister would receive a salary (as of 2016) of LKR 858,000 annually paid from the Prime Minister's Office.

Official residence and office[edit]

The official residence of the prime minister is the Prime Minister's House most commonly referred to as Temple Trees. The Prime Minister's Office is located on Sir Ernest de Silva Mawatha (formerly known as Flower Road) in Colombo.

In recent years from time to time, Temple Trees has been by some presidents such as Kumaratunga and Rajapaksa. While certain Prime Minister such as Wickremesinghe have chosen to stay at his personal residence.


For ground travel, the prime minister uses the prime ministerial car, which is an armored black Mercedes-Benz S-Class (S600) Pullman Guard. For domestic air travel, helicopters from the No. 4 (VVIP/VIP) Helicopter Squadron of the Sri Lanka Air Force are used while for long distance travel, regular flights of the Sri Lankan Airlines are used.


Traditionally security for the prime minister has been provided by the Sri Lanka Police. During emergencies military units have been allocated to bolster security. At present the Prime Minister's Security Division is in charge of security of the Prime Minister.


The first Prime Minister of Ceylon with his Cabinet members

The post of Prime Minister of Ceylon was created in 1947 prior to independence from Britain and the formation of the Dominion of Ceylon in 1948. United National Party leader D. S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister of Then Ceylon in 1947 after independence. In 1972 when Sri Lanka became a republic the name of the post changed to Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. With a Westminster-based political system established the Prime Minister was the head of government therefore held the most powerful political office of the country at the time. This changed with a constitutional change in 1978, when the Executive Presidency was created, making the President both head of state and head of government. Until 1978 the Prime minister was also the Minister of Defence and External Affairs. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President as a member of the cabinet of ministers. In the event the post president is vacant, the Prime Minister becomes the acting president until Parliament convenes to elect a successor or new elections could be held to elect a new president. This was the case with H.E. President Dingiri Banda Wijetunge. United National Party leaders Dudley Senanayake and Ranil Wickramasinghe together with Sri Lanka Freedom Party leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike was appointed three times to the position. With passing of the 19th amendment to the constitution in 2015, the prime minister was granted more powers when appointing ministers and leading the cabinet.

Last election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 2015 Sri Lankan parliamentary election[4][5]
Alliances and parties Votes % Seats
District National Total
  United National Front for Good Governance[a] 5,098,916 45.66% 93 13 106
  United People's Freedom Alliance 4,732,664 42.38% 83 12 95
  Tamil National Alliance[g] 515,963 4.62% 14 2 16
  Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna 543,944 4.87% 4 2 6
  Sri Lanka Muslim Congress[c] 44,193 0.40% 1 0 1
  Eelam People's Democratic Party 33,481 0.30% 1 0 1
  Independents 42,828 0.38% 0 0 0
  All Ceylon Makkal Congress[b] 33,102 0.30% 0 0 0
  Democratic Party 28,587 0.26% 0 0 0
Buddhist People's Front 20,377 0.18% 0 0 0
  Tamil National People's Front[h] 18,644 0.17% 0 0 0
  Ceylon Workers' Congress[d] 17,107 0.15% 0 0 0
  Frontline Socialist Party 7,349 0.07% 0 0 0
United People's Party 5,353 0.05% 0 0 0
Others 24,467 0.22% 0 0 0
Valid Votes 11,166,975 100.00% 196 29 225
Rejected Votes 517,123
Total Polled 11,684,098
Registered Electors 15,044,490
Turnout 77.66%

List of Prime Ministers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The UNFGG contested under the name and symbol of UNP.
  2. ^ a b The ACMC contested separately in one district (Ampara) and with the UNFGG in other districts.
  3. ^ a b The SLMC contested separately in two districts (Batticaloa and Vanni) and with the UNFGG in other districts.
  4. ^ a b The CWC contested separately in three districts (Badulla, Kandy and Kegalle) and with the UPFA in other districts.
  5. ^ The CF contested separately in two districts (Nuwara Eliya and Vanni) and with the UPFA in other districts.
  6. ^ The LP contested separately in four districts (Colombo, Galle, Kurunegala and Matara) and with the UPFA in other districts.
  7. ^ The TNA contested under the name and symbol of ITAK.
  8. ^ The TNPF contested under the name and symbol of ACTC.


  1. ^ Thomas, Kris (21 November 2016). "Of Ministers' Salaries And Parliamentary Perks". Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Thomas, Kavindya Chris (20 November 2016). "Do MPs get fat salaries?". Ceylon Today. Retrieved 30 August 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  4. ^ "Parliamentary Election - 17-08-2015 - Official Election Results — All Island Results". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 
  5. ^ "Parliamentary Election - 17-08-2015 - Official Election Results — Composition of the Parliament". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 

External links[edit]