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Ratnasiri new Prime Minister

Veteran politician, SLFP stalwart and Cabinet Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake was yesterday sworn in as the country's 18th Prime Minister.

He replaces former Premier Mahinda Rajapakse who was elected President on November 17. The new Prime Minister yesterday took his oaths before President Rajapakse at the auspicious time of 11.39 a.m. at Temple Trees.

This is the second time that Wickremanayake was elevated to the Premier's Office. He was earlier appointed Prime Minister in 2000 by then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga replacing the then incumbent Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

The Cabinet of the previous UPFA Government stood dissolved with the assumption of office of the new President. Yesterday's simple ceremony was attended by former Ministers of the UPFA Government and leaders of its constituent parties.

Former Foreign Affairs and Tourism Minister Anura Bandaranaike, the original nominee for the post, was also present.

Speaking to journalists after being sworn in, Premier Wickremanayake acknowledged the contribution made by the people to elect Rajapakse as the President.

"But, they should not stop there. They should continue with their responsibility to push the Government and the President to do what country needs," Premier Wickremanayake added.

Wickremanayake, 73, first entered Parliament in March 1960 contesting the Horana electorate from the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna. In the July 1960 Parliamentary election he again successfully contested the Horana electorate as an Independent candidate.

Having joined the SLFP in 1962 he successfully contested the 1965 and 1970 General elections and became MP for Horana.

He was the Deputy Minister of Justice, Minister of Justice, and Minister Plantation Industries in the United Front Government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike from 1970 to 1977.

After losing the 1977 election he re-entered politics in 1993 having contested the Western Provincial Council and became a Minister of the Western Provincial Council in which Chandrika Banaranaike Kumaratunga was the Chief Minister.

He held the portfolios of Public Administration, Plantation Industries, Parliamentary Affairs and Home Affairs of the PA Government in 1994. He was appointed Prime Minister in October 2000. He held the Ministerial portfolios of Public Security, Law and Order, Buddhasasana, Agriculture and Deputy Minister of Defence in the UPFA Government.

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Ratnasiri's political journey

Born May 5, 1933

Schools - Millewa Primary school, Dharmapala Vidyalaya Pannipitiya and Ananda College, Colombo

Joined Lincoln's Inn for Barrister of Law Degree

1959 - Returned to Sri Lanka following the demise of elder brother Munidasa who was in active politics in the Horana electorate before he could sit for final Barristers exam

1960 - First entered Parliament as MP for Horana from the Mahajana Eksath Peramuna

July 1960 - Successfully contested the General Election as an Independent candidate

1962 - Joined the SLFP

1965 - Re-elected MP for Horana from the SLFP

1970 - Re-elected MP for Horana and became the Deputy Minister of Justice in the United Front Government

1975 - Assumed duties as Minister of Plantation Industries

1976 - Appointed Minister of Justice in addition to the Minister of Plantation Industries

1978 - Appointed SLFP General Secretary

1993 - Re-entered politics contesting the Western Provincial Council election and became a Provincial Council Minister.

1994 - Elected MP for Kalutara district and assumed duties as Minister of Public Administration, Home Affairs, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Plantations

2000 - Re-elected MP for Kalutara district and sworn in as the Prime Minister and as Minister of Buddhasasana and Plantation Industries.

2001 - Re-elected MP for Kalutara district

2004 - Appointed MP from the National List and sworn in as Minister of Public Security, Law and Order and Minister of Buddhasasana, and Deputy Minister of Defence

July 2005 - Sworn in as Minister of Agriculture

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