Sri Lanka has a new prime minister, appointed by a president who himself has been the PM of the country six times in the past.
Veteran politician and former Home Minister Dinesh Gunawardena was sworn in as the prime minister on Friday, 22 July, at the Prime Minister’s Office on Flower Road, Colombo, after being chosen for the post by President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Known to be a long-time Rajapaksa loyalist, the 73-year-old has in the past served as the foreign minister and education minister of Sri Lanka.
He is the leader of the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP), which is part of the coalition led by the Rajapaksas' party (Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna) called the Sri Lanka People's Freedom Alliance.
What else do we know about Dinesh Gunawardena?
Dinesh Gunawardena is the son of Philip Gunawardena, a Marxist who co-founded the first modern political party of Sri Lanka, the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP). His mother, Kusumasiri Gunawardena, was also a prominent Ceylonese politician, who joined the LSSP.
After finishing his schooling in Sri Lanka, he studied abroad, first at the Netherlands School of Business and later at the University of Oregon in the US.
During his time in the US, he reportedly took part in the anti-Vietnam war protests.
He had started to work in New York City but returned to his home country after his father died in 1972.
Gunawardena entered Parliament for the first time in 1983 as the MEP candidate in the Maharagama Electoral District during a by-election, which he won.
After contesting and winning the 2000 parliamentary elections, he was appointed as the minister of transport. He was also given the environment ministry in 2001.
He won his seat in the 2004 parliamentary elections as well and was appointed minister of urban development and water supply as well as the deputy minister of education.
Three years later, Gunawardena was appointed as minister of urban development and sacred area development.
He also served as the minister of water supply and drainage and was re-elected in the 2010 and 2015 parliamentary elections.
Gunawardena has also been foreign minister under the Rajapaksa government that came to power after the 2020 parliamentary elections.