Ranil Wickremesinghe (born 24 March 1949) is a Sri Lankan politician, who is the current President of Sri Lanka since 20th July 2022. He also holds the position of Minister of Finance of Sri Lanka. He is a member of parliament from the United National Party (UNP). He has been the leader of the UNP since 1994. Earlier he served as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 1993 to 1994, 2001 to 2004, 2015 to 2018, 2018 to 2019, and in 2022. He also served as Leader of the Opposition from 1994 to 2001 and from 2004 to 2015.
Born to a wealthy political family, he graduated from University of Ceylon and qualified as an advocate from the Ceylon Law College in 1972. Entering active politics in the mid-1970s with the UNP, he was first elected to Parliament from the Biyagama electorate in the 1977 parliamentary elections and was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, by his uncle and President J. R. Jayewardene. He was thereafter appointed as the Minister of Youth Affairs and Employment, becoming the youngest cabinet minister in Sri Lanka.
In 1989, President Ranasinghe Premadasa, appointed Wickremesinghe as the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology and Leader of the House. He succeeded D. B. Wijetunga as Prime Minister in 1993 following the assassination of Premadasa and Wijetunga’s succession to the presidency. He was appointed Leader of the Opposition in November 1994 following the assassination of Gamini Dissanayake during the campaign for the 1994 presidential election. Wickremesinghe was the UNP nominee in the 1999 and 2005 presidential elections, but was defeated by Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, respectively.
On 8 January 2015, Wickremesinghe was appointed as prime minister by President Maithripala Sirisena, who had defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 presidential election. His coalition alliance, the United National Front for Good Governance, won the 2015 parliamentary election with 106 seats. Although it fell short of an outright majority, Wickremesinghe was re-elected as Prime Minister, with over 35 Sri Lanka Freedom Party members joining his cabinet. Wickremesinghe was removed as Prime Minister on 26 October 2018 by President Maithripala Sirisena with the appointment of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister, which Wickremesinghe refused to accept, resulting in a constitutional crisis. The crisis ended with Sirisena re-appointing Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister on 16 December 2018. He resigned as Prime Minister on 20 November 2019, and was again succeeded by Mahinda following the 2019 presidential election. He contested the 2020 parliamentary election but failed to secure a seat in Parliament.
He re-entered Parliament as a National List MP of the United National Party, and was sworn in as a member of parliament on 23 June 2021. In May 2022, Wickremesinghe was re-appointed as prime minister by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. On 9 July 2022, Wickremesinghe announced that he was willing to resign amidst mass anti-government protests that saw his personal residence set ablaze, along with the residence of then-President Gotabaya Rajapaska taken over by protestors. He agreed to resign as prime minister once a new government is formed.
Wickremesinghe became the acting president on 13 July 2022, after his predecessor Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country. Rajapaksa resigned on 14 July 2022, and the next day, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as acting president of Sri Lanka. The same day, he decided to formally abolish the presidential standard and remove the style “His Excellency” when addressing the president. On 20 July, 2022, Wickremesinghe was elected as the 9th President via an election by parliament.
Further information: 2022 Sri Lankan presidential election
On 13 July, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country to Maldives, with Wickremesinghe claiming the charge of presidency in an acting capacity due to his premiership and imposed a state of emergency in Sri Lanka. Following Rajapaksa’s official resignation, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the acting president of Sri Lanka before Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya on 15 July. Wickremesinghe, who had formerly been a National List MP with his party represented by only one seat in the Parliament, became the President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Minister of Technology, and Minister of Finance all at the same time. Upon becoming the acting President, Wickremesinghe prohibited the usage of “His Excellency” as an honorific prefix for the President and officially abolished the usage of a Presidential flag.
On 20 July, he was elected as the 9th President of Sri Lanka by the Parliament of Sri Lanka in a secret ballot to serve the remainder of Rajapaksa’s term, which was supposed to end in November 2024. He defeated his main rival, Dullus Alahapperuma, with 134 votes to 82.