Meet the 3 Candidates in the Race To Become Sri Lanka’s President

Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to step down eventually and a new president will be elected within 30 days.

4 min read
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Edited By :Padmashree Pande

The state of affairs in Sri Lanka is in absolute chaos after the then President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled the country, after promising to resign. Ranil Wickremesinghe, who had resigned as prime minister, was appointed as the acting president of Sri Lanka on the same day, 13 July.

Wickremesinghe is expected to step down eventually and the parliament will have to elect a new president within 30 days.

Sajith Premadasa, the leader of the main opposition party, Dullas Alahapperuma, a journalist-turned-politician and Ranil Wickremesinghe, a six-time prime minister, are all vying to become Sri Lanka's next president.


Sajith Premadasa: The Leader of the Opposition

Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to step down eventually and a new president will be elected within 30 days.

On 3 January 2020 Sajith Premadasa became the Leader of the Opposition.

(Image:Twitter/ Sajith Premadasa)

Sajith Premadasa, 55, is the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, who served as prime minister from 1977 to 1989, and president from 1989 to 1993. After his father was assassinated in a suicide bombing, carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), he joined the United National Party, which has been led by Ranil Wickremesinghe since 1994.

His first stint in politics was as district organiser of the United National Party (UNP) for Hambantota District and later contested and won the 2000 general election from the same district. In 2001, he was made Deputy Health Minister in Wickremesinghe's Cabinet.

He was elected as the deputy leader of the United National Party in 2011 but left the post in 2013 and then again returned to the position in 2014. In 2015, he was appointed Minister of Housing and Samruddhi (prosperity) in the new cabinet formed by the then President Maithripala Sirisena.

In 2019, he was made the UNP's presidential candidate but was defeated by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. After his defeat, he resigned from ministerial portfolios and even quit the post of Deputy Leader of the UNP.

Then, on 3 January 2020, he became the Leader of the Opposition.

In February 2020, he formed the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, to contest the 2020 parliamentary election in Sri Lanka.

Premadasa has said, "We are not going to hoodwink the people. We are going to be frank and present a plan to get rid of Sri Lanka's economic ills."

His popularity extends to Tamils and the Muslims in Sri Lanka.


Ranil Wickremesinghe: The 6-Time PM & 'Record Loser'

Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to step down eventually and a new president will be elected within 30 days.

Acting President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

(Photo: PTI)

Ranil Wickremesinghe took oath as Sri Lanka's new prime minister on 12 May, marking the sixth time the 73-year-old became the PM of the country.

He entered politics in the 1970s and was one of the youngest people in the country's political history to become the deputy foreign affairs minister at the age of 28.

He was first appointed the country's PM in 1993, after the assassination of former premier, Ranasinghe Premadasa, who was killed by the LTTE.

His second stint as PM came in 2002, when he led his party and won the election in a landslide victory.

His main task at hand was to rebuild the country that was still reeling from a brutal civil war between Tamil guerrillas and the Sri Lankan government.

Later in 2015, he was appointed as PM when Maithripala Sirisena became president of Sri Lanka. However, he was removed from the post of PM in October 2018 amid a slump in the economy. Wickremesinghe challenged this and returned to his position by end of 2018.

One of the biggest failures of the government with Wickremesinghe as prime minister was in 2019 when 269 people were killed and hundreds more injured due to suicide bombings in churches and luxury hotels on the day of Easter. Wickremesinghe resigned as PM in 2019 after the attacks.

He has lost two presidential elections and led his party to a long line of defeats is when the tag of "record loser" became associated with him.


Dullas Alahapperuma: The Former Journalist

Ranil Wickremesinghe is expected to step down eventually and a new president will be elected within 30 days.

Dullas Alahapperuma, 63 is a senior lawmaker and a former journalist.

(Image: Dullas Alahapperuma/ Twitter)

Dullas Alahapperuma, 63, is a senior lawmaker from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and a former journalist.

Alahapperuma’s first position of power in politics was in 1994 when he served as the minister of mass media and a cabinet spokesperson. He then became the member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka from Matara District. He later resigned in April when President Rajapaksa dissolved the cabinet after protesters surrounded his private residence.

Alahapperuma said he strongly believes that the people of this country should not suffer hardships or despair anymore. “It is evident that everyone has a constant desire and interest to find a sustainable solution to the prevailing crises. As a developed cultural society, these issues should be solved within a democratic constitutional political framework,” he said.

“It is no secret that I have been engaged in clean, active politics for three decades and have always stood by the people of this country.”
Dullas Alahapperuma, Presidential Candidate

The ruling SLPP, which officially announced its backing of Wickremesinghe, has been met with resistance from within.

The party’s chair GL Peiris said the party must back Alahapperuma, the breakaway SLPP candidate who has already put himself forward to the vote. The party is to meet on Saturday to make the final decision.

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