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President of Sri Lanka

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Title: President of Sri Lanka  
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President of Sri Lanka

President of Sri Lanka
ශ්‍රී ලංකා ජනාධිපති
இலங்கை சனாதிபதி
Presidential Standard
Maithripala Sirisena

since 9 January 2015
Style The Honourable
His Excellency
(Formal and diplomatic)
Residence President's House
Term length Five years, renewable once
Constituting instrument Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Inaugural holder William Gopallawa
Formation 22 May 1972 (1972-05-22)
Website President
Presidential Secretariat
Coat of arms of Sri Lanka, showing a lion holding a sword in its right forepaw surrounded by a ring made from blue lotus petals which is placed on top of a grain vase sprouting rice grains to encircle it. A Dharmacakra is on the top while a sun and moon are at the bottom on each side of the vase.
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Sri Lanka

The President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhalese: ශ්‍රී ලංකා ජනාධිපති; Tamil: இலங்கை சனாதிபதி) is the elected head of state and head of government of Sri Lanka. The President leads the executive branch of the Sri Lankan government and is the commander-in-chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.

The office was created in 1972 and the president remains the single most dominant political office in the country. The current President is Maithripala Sirisena.


  • History 1
  • Powers 2
  • Residence 3
  • List of Presidents 4
  • Last election 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


At independence, executive power in Ceylon resided with the Monarch of Ceylon, represented by the Governor-General, which was exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister. The 1972 constitution removed the monarch and replaced the governor-general with a president, but it remained a mostly ceremonial position.

The 1978 constitution moved from a Westminster-based political system into one modeled on France. As in France, a new, directly elected President with a longer term and independence from Parliament was created. The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, head of the Cabinet, appoints the prime minister, and could dissolve parliament (after one year has passed since the convening of parliament after a parliamentary election) The 17th constitutional amendment of 2001 reduced certain powers of the President in particular in regard to the appointment of the upper judiciary and independent commissions such as the election commission or the bribery and corruption commission. After 2005 this amendment has been illegally ignored by the president.

In practice, the Sri Lankan presidency was much more powerful than the President of France. French presidents traditionally deal only with defense and foreign policy, leaving domestic affairs to the Prime Minister. Sri Lankan presidents are involved with every aspect of the government and are able to hold cabinet portfolios, or can bypass the cabinet posts by delegating decisions to the Presidential Secretariat.

The Nineteenth Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution implemented restrictions on the powers of the presidency. It limited the presidency to two, five year terms. The amendment mandates that the president consult the prime minister on ministerial appointments. It curtails any president’s immunity by making him liable to fundamental rights litigation on any official act.[1]


Presidents have little constraints on their power and they cannot be taken to court. However they can be impeached by a two-thirds majority in Parliament. They can place the country in a state of emergency, under which they can override any law passed and promulgate any regulation without needing legislative approval. However, to prolong the state of emergency for more than a month parliamentary approval is needed.

At the opening of Parliament, the President delivers an address similar to a Speech from the Throne, outlining government policy.

The President has the power to appoint Attorneys-at-Laws to the position of President's Counsel and military personnel to the post of Aide de Camp to the President.

After the recent Sri Lankan presidential election, 2015 current President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena has pledged in a 100-day work program to bringing in constitutional reforms to return to Westminster-style government based on an executive cabinet responsible to parliament.[2]


The Old Parliament Building the near the Galle Face Green, now the Presidential Secretariat

The official residence of the president is the President's House (formally the Queen's House as the residences of the Governor General) in Colombo. However the president's office is the Presidential Secretariat which is at the former Parliament building in Colombo, where many formal functions takes place. Other presidential residences include:

In recent years from time to time Prime Minister's House, commonly referred to as Temple Tree's, which has been the official residence of the Prime Minister since 1948, has been used by presidents. In 2015 President Sirisena refuse to use Presidents House or the Temple Trees and use his former ministerial residence at Wijayarama Mawatha. The Temple Trees was given back to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe where he use for official work only and resides at his private house in Colombo 7.

List of Presidents

Last election

First Executive President of Sri Lanka His Excellency J. R. Jayewardene
 Summary of the 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election[3]
Candidate Party Votes %
  Maithripala Sirisena New Democratic Front 6,217,162 51.28%
  Mahinda Rajapaksa United People's Freedom Alliance 5,768,090 47.58%
Ratnayake Arachchige Sirisena Patriotic National Front 18,174 0.15%
Namal Ajith Rajapaksa Our National Front 15,726 0.13%
Maulawi Ibrahim Mohanmed Mishlar United Peace Front 14,379 0.12%
A. S. P. Liyanage Sri Lanka Labour Party 14,351 0.12%
Ruwanthileke Peduru United Lanka People's Party 12,436 0.10%
  Aithurus M. Illias Independent 10,618 0.09%
  Duminda Nagamuwa Frontline Socialist Party 9,941 0.08%
  Siritunga Jayasuriya United Socialist Party 8,840 0.07%
Sarath Manamendra New Sinhala Heritage 6,875 0.06%
  Pani Wijesiriwardene Socialist Equality Party 4,277 0.04%
  Anurudha Polgampola Independent 4,260 0.04%
  Sundaram Mahendran Nava Sama Samaja Party 4,047 0.03%
Muthu Bandara Theminimulla All Are Citizens, All Are Kings Organisation 3,846 0.03%
Battaramulle Seelarathana Jana Setha Peramuna 3,750 0.03%
Prasanna Priyankara Democratic National Movement 2,793 0.02%
Jayantha Kulathunga United Lanka Great Council 2,061 0.02%
Wimal Geeganage Sri Lanka National Front 1,826 0.02%
Valid votes 12,123,452 100.00%
Rejected votes 140,925
Total polled 12,264,377
Registered electors 15,044,490
Turnout 81.52%

See also


  1. ^ "Strides in the right direction". The Economist. Apr 30, 2015.  
  2. ^ "PRESIDENT MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA’S 100 DAY WORK PROGRAMME". 10 January 2015. Daily News Sri Lanka. Retrieved 10 January 2015. 
  3. ^ "Presidential Election 08-01-2015 – Official Results – All Island Final Result". Department of Elections, Sri Lanka. 

External links

  • The official website of the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • The official website of the Presidential Secretariat of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
  • The official website of the Parliament of Sri Lanka - list of Heads of State
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