Veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister after Mahinda Rajapaksa left office this month. He has taken office at a time when the island nation is grappling with a serious and unprecedented economic and political crisis. Rajapaksa resigned on May 9 after his supporters clashed with anti-governmental protesters.
Wickremesinghe has been named prime minister of the forex-starved country for the sixth time. The 73-year-old belongs to an elite family. His maternal grandfather published newspapers supporting Sri Lanka’s independence movement, while his paternal grandfather was the most senior official in the colonial government.
The educational background of Ranil Wickremesinghe
Born in 1949, Wickremesinghe completed his primary and secondary education at the Royal Preparatory School and Royal College in the capital, Colombo. He then attended the University of Colombo, formerly known as the University of Ceylon, and obtained a law degree. After graduating in law, he was sworn in as a lawyer of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka in 1972 and practiced law for five years.
Wickremesinghe was a Robert E Wilhelm Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for International Studies. He also received an honorary doctorate from Deakin University, Australia, in 2017 for “for significant contributions to reforms in economics, education and human rights.”
In addition, the Prime Minister has been (ex officio) Vice-President of the International Democratic Union since 2005. Wickremesinghe was also named chairman of the Asia Pacific Democratic Union.
Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Early Political Career
Wickremesinghe was first appointed Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 1993. He took office after the assassination of the then President of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadasa. After serving until 1994, Wickremesinghe was reappointed as Prime Minister in 2000 under the presidency of Chandrika Bandaranaike. He ran for president in 2005 but narrowly lost to Mahinda Rajapaksa after falling short of about 150,000 votes.
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