Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Sri Lanka on Thursday as the South Asian country deals with an unprecedented economic crisis. Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned from the Prime Minister’s office on Monday following violent attacks by their supporters on peaceful anti-government protesters.

Wickremesinghe’s appointment as the Sri Lankan Prime Minister is seen as a way to fill the administrative vacuum in the country after the cabinet was dissolved this week.

Also Read: What happened in Sri Lanka after Mahinda Rajapaksa quit as prime minister?

Who is Ranil Wickremesinghe?

Ranil Wickremesinghe is considered to be a political veteran of Sri Lanka. The 73-year-old has held the Prime Minister’s office five times in his 45-year-long political career. 

His Prime Ministerial terms lasted from 1993-1994,  2001-2004, 2015-2015 (100 days), 2015-2018 and 2018-2019. He has also been the leader of the United National Party since 1994.

Wickremesinghe’s reputation took a hit in 2019 before he left the Prime Minister’s office. Maithripala Sirisena was the President of Sri Lanka at that time. 

An internal conflict and communication breakdown between him and Sirisena were blamed for intelligence lapses that led to Easter Sunday suicide bomb attacks in 2019 that killed more than 260 people, Associated Press reported.

His political party split in 2019 amid a leadership crisis and most senior members left to form a new party, which is currently the country’s main opposition.

Also Read: In the making: A South Asian economic crisis?

Media reports also claim that Wickremesinghe attempted to shield his appointee and friend, who was serving as Sri Lanka Central Bank in 2019. He was accused of insider trading, Associated Press reported.

Born on March 24, 1949, Wickremesinghe graduated from the University of Ceylon and became an advocate in 1972. He later entered the political sphere of Sri Lanka.