Leaders

Maithripala Sirisena

Maithripala Sirisena

His Excellency
Maithripala Sirisena
මෛත්‍රිපාල සිරිසේන
மைத்திரிபால சிறிசேன
Maithripala- Russia (cropped).jpg
 
7th President of Sri Lanka
Incumbent
Assumed office
9 January 2015
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Preceded by Mahinda Rajapaksa
Leader of the House
In office
3 May 2004 – 9 August 2005
President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa
Preceded by W. J. M. Lokubandara
Succeeded by Nimal Siripala de Silva
Minister of Defence
Incumbent
Assumed office
12 January 2015
President Himself
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Preceded by Mahinda Rajapaksa
Minister of Mahaweli Development and Environment
Incumbent
Assumed office
12 January 2015
President Himself
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe
Preceded by Susil Premajayanth
In office
23 November 2005 – 23 April 2010
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
Succeeded by Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena
Minister of Health
In office
23 April 2010 – 21 November 2014
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne
Preceded by Nimal Siripala de Silva
Succeeded by Tissa Attanayake
Minister of Irrigation, Mahaweli and Rajarata Development
In office
10 April 2004 – 23 November 2005
President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa
Minister of Mahaweli Development and Parliamentary Affairs
In office
1997–2001
President Chandrika Kumaratunga
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
Preceded by S. B. Dissanayake
Succeeded by A. H. M. Azwer
Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 January 2015
Preceded by Mahinda Rajapaksa
12th Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations
In office
9 January 2015 – 27 November 2015
Head Elizabeth II
Preceded by Mahinda Rajapaksa
Succeeded by Joseph Muscat
Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
for Polonnaruwa District
In office
15 February 1989 – 9 January 2015
Succeeded by Jayasinghe Bandara
 
Personal details
Born Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena
 3 September 1951 
Yagoda, Gampaha District, Western Province,

Dominion of Ceylon
(now Sri Lanka)

Nationality Sri Lanka
Political party Sri Lanka Freedom Party
(1968–Present)
Communist Party of Ceylon
(1966-1968)
Other political
affiliations
United People’s Freedom Alliance
(2004–Present)
New Democratic Front
(2014–2015)
People’s Alliance
(1994–2004)
Spouse(s) Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari
Children Chathurika
Daham
Dharani
Alma mater Royal Central College, Polonnaruwa
Agriculture School, Kundasale
Maxim Gorky Literature Institute
Occupation Politician
Profession Agriculturist
Signature

Honourable Maithripala Sirisena

President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Pallewatte Gamaralalage Maithripala Yapa Sirisena, known as Maithripala Sirisena, is the 6th Executive President of Sri Lanka. He was born on 3rd September 1951 to a middle-class farming family. He joined mainstream politics in 1989 and has held several ministerial portfolios since 1994. He is the President of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) (ශ්‍රී ලංකා නිදහස් පක්ෂය – இலங்கை சுதந்திரக் கட்சி) and he was the longest serving General Secretary. He was selected as the Common Candidate of the for the Presidential Election to be held on 8th January 2015, where he won the support of the people of Sri Lanka to change the regime to build a better governance and an economically prosperous Sri Lanka for everyone.

Maithripala Sirisena is a rare breed of a gentleman politician in today’s political landscape, a politician with an impeccable track record, untainted by either violence or corruption. Maithripala is a political leader with a genuine national appeal. The son of a farmer, he had practiced a brand of centrist, moderate and clean politics, which characterizes the best in Sri Lanka’s political culture.

1967
In 1967 Maithripala Sirisena became a member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s Youth Organization and became its secretary of the Polonnaruwa electorate at the time he was completing his ordinary level (O/L) examinations at Royal Central College, Polonnaruwa. In 1970 he actively participated in the SLFP election campaign as a student.

He obtained the “Diploma in Agriculture” from School of Agriculture in Kundasale in 1973.

Maithri was jailed after the 1971 JVP Insurrection, although he was not involved in it.

1974
He became a Co-orporative Purchasing Officer in Polonnaruwa as his first employment.

1976
He became “Grama Niladhari” – The “Chief Government Officer” and served his fellow villages in day today administrative matters.

1977
Appointed as the Secretary to Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Central Committee’s Polonnaruwa electorate and Maithripala Sirisena played a leading role in 1977 election, and had to undergo hardships due to prevailing post election violence.

1978
He resigned from his job to engage in full time politics.
He attended an International Youth Congress held in Cuba in the same year.

1979
He became the Secretary of Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), Polonnaruwa District.
Maithripala Sirisena was once again jailed for taking part in protest campaigns against stripping Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranayake’s civic rights.

1980
He was appointed as the SLFP – Polonnaruwa District Organizer to lead the SLFP in district level.
Maithripala Sirisena received a Diploma in Political Science, from the Maxim Gorky Academy in Russia.

1981
Maithri became the Treasurer of “All Island SLFP Youth Organization” which made him elegible to become a Central Committee Member of SLFP (SLFP Politburo), which is the highest level decision making body of the party.

1989
In 1989, Maithri for the first time contested for the general elections from the Polonnaruwa District and became a member of the parliament (MP) on 15th February 1989. He contested under the well-known SLFP symbol “HAND” and this was the last time this symbol was used in an election in Sri Lanka.

1994
In the general elections of 1994, he obtained the highest number of preferential votes from Polonnaruwa District. After this, he was made the Deputy Minister for Irrigation.

1997
He was offered the Cabinet Ministerial portfolio of Mahaweli Development and Parliamentary Affairsand was elected as the Assistant Secretary of the SLFP.

2000
Maithri was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. (SLFP)

2001
He was elected to the 12th Parliament and in July 2001 Minister Maithripala Sirisena was appointed to theGeneral Secretary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and he is still serving in this position to date as the longest serving secretary of the history of Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

2004
In February 2004 Maithripala Sirisena signed the historic memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) with Mr. Tilvin Silva, the secretary of JVP, which lead to the birth of United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) (එක්සත් ජනතා නිදහස් සන්ධානය), the current coalition government.

He was elected to the 13th Parliament of Sri Lanka and was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Mahaweli, River Basin & Rajarata Development.

Maithripala Sirisena was also appointed as the Leader of the House of Parliament.

2005
In November 2005, Maithripala Sirisena was given two portfolios in the government of Sri Lanka:

  • The Cabinet Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development.
  • The Minister of Environment & Natural Resources

2006
Mr Maithripala Sirisena once again signed the memorundum of understanding (MOU) between Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and United National Party (UNP) with then chairman of UNP Mr. Malik Samarawickrama. This was an agreement to coorporate with the government to end the civil war.

2007
He then served as the Cabinet Minister for Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development.

During this period he was able to introduced the agricultural cultivation drive of the ministry “API WAWAMU – RATA NAGAMU” program which lead to agricultural boom throughout Sri Lanka including accelerated field crop production to sustain the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka.

On 25th January 2007, The Minister initiated and started the Moragahakanda – Kalu Ganga project under the Mahaveli Master Plan, which was a 90 billion Sri Lankan Rupee project. In addition to providing water for irrigation and drinking purposes in North-Central, Northern and Eastern Provinces. Moragahakanda project was also generate 25 MW of power, fulfilling a long-term need for domestic and industrial electricity demand.

In March 2007 the Minister escaped from the terrorist suicide-bombing attempt by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Welikanda. With the information provided by the security information divisions, 3 LTTE carders were on hunt, but they had swallowed cyanide capsules hanged on their neck and killed themselves at the time of capture.

2008
Once again in 09th October 2008 the Minister was targeted by the world’s most ruthless LTTE terrorist group. The attack was carried out when he was returning from the “Wap Magul Ceremony” held in Bandaragama. This time the Minister was miraculously escaped and saved his life to serve the country. Unfortunately 4 people died 15 were injured in this incident.

2009
Since 2005 at the height of the war in Sri Lanka, Mr Maithripala performed as the Acting Defence Minister of Sri Lanka for five times. He was the acting Defence Minister at the final days of the war in Sri Lanka in the absence of the Defence Minister (The President).

2010
Minister Maithripala was elected back in to the parliament in 2010 and was appointed as the Cabinet Minister of Health of the UPFA government.

“Sri Lanka – National Drug Policy Act”
During the period 2010-2014 the minister have taken initiative to introduce back the well-known Bibile “Drug Policy Act” and presented it to the cabinet, fulfilling the need of a National Drug Policy Framework for Sri Lanka. The act is now before the cabinet for approval.

“Pictorial Warnings on Tobacco Packaging”
He fought with the multinational tobacco companies, both in and out of the courts with threats to introduce the “Pictorial Warnings” on the tobacco / cigarette packings to educate the general public to adverse effects of the smoking. During this two and half year of legal battle, he had to sit and wait hours on watching the court proceedings and finally won the case. By January 2015 each and every cigarette pack will carry pictorial warnings on 60% of its serface.

“WHO Recognition”
Received World Health Organization ‘World No Tobacco Day Award 2013’ for his determine action taken to stop tobacco smoking in the country. This is the first time a Sri Lankan was awarded with this honour.

“Harvard Ministerial Leadership in Health Award” 2013
Received ‘2013 Harvard Ministerial Leadership in Health Award’ from Harvard School of Public Health & Kennedy School of Government, United States of America in recognition of his commitment to innovative leadership in his tenure as Minister of Health, Sri Lanka. This is also the first time a Sri Lankan was awarded with this honour.

“World Health Assembly in Geneva”
Rendered leadership to G15 Group of Countries at 2013 World Health Assembly in Geneva and presented the G15 Statement on health related issues to the Assembly.

Was selected as the one of the four Vice-Presidents WHO World Health Assembly 2014.

Empowering Local Medicine Manufactures
A historical decision was taken by the initiative as the Health Minister Mr. Mathripala, obtained the approvals to purchase locally manufactured medicines directly to the ministry of health empowering the local medicine manufactures.

Sri Lanka’s first Government to Government Medicine Procurement Mechanism
Mr Maithripala, as the health minister initiated and commenced Sri Lanka’s first government to government medicine procurement mechanism by singing an agreement with the government of Bangaladesh and Sri Lanka to create an atmosphere to get quality medicine at a better rate to help the people in Sri Lanka who could not afford.

2014 November
2015 Presidential Election – Common Candidate

Minister Maithripala Sirisena was selected and named as the Common Candidate for the upcoming Sri Lankan Presidential Election to be held on 8th January 2015.(The part of article above is taken rom his official website)

Early life and career

Maithripala Sirisena was born on 3 September 1951 in Yagoda, a village in present-day Gampaha District. He is the son of World War II veteran Albert Sirisena, who was awarded five acres of paddy land in Polonnaruwa near Parakrama Samudra by D. S. Senanayake. His mother was a school teacher.

He was educated at Thopawewa Maha Vidyalaya and Royal College, Polonnaruwa where he first developed an interest in politics. While still in school, as a teenager, Sirisena became interested in communism and joined the Communist Party becoming closely associated with party leader N. Shanmugathasan in party activities. In 1968 he took part in a communist party anti-government rally which was broken up by baton charging police.

At the age of 17 years he was chosen as the secretary of the SLFP Youth Organisation in Polonnaruwa by the SLFP Member of Parliament for Polonnaruwa, Leelaratna Wijesingha. In 1971, aged 19, he was jailed for 15 months for alleged involvement in the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Insurrection Following his release from prison, Sirisena joined All Ceylon SLFP Youth Organization led by Anura Bandaranaike and joined politics at the national level. After serving at a number of state institutions, Sirisena obtained the SLFP membership in 1978 In 1974 Sirisena started working at the Palugasdamana Multi Purpose Cooperative Society as a purchasing office and in 1976 he became a grama niladhari (village officer) but resigned in 1978. He rose up the SLFP ranks, joining its politburo in 1981, where he was chosen as the President of the All Island SLFP Youth Organisation, and also later served as Treasurer. During the 1981 Presidential poll, when Basil Rajapaksa joined the United National Party, he took over the responsibility of the Secretary of the organisation. Subsequently, he was appointed the Polonnaruwa SLFP chief organiser by the SLFP hierarchy. He became president of the All Island SLFP Youth Organisation in 1983.

Sirisena studied for three years at the Sri Lanka School of Agriculture, Kundasale from where he earned a diploma in agriculture in 1973. In 1980 he earned a Diploma in political science at the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in Russia.

Legislative career

Sri Lankan Parliament

Sirisena contested the 1989 parliamentary election as one of the SLFP’s candidates in Polonnaruwa District and was elected to the Parliament. He was re-elected at the 1994 parliamentary election, this time as a People’s Alliance (PA) candidate. In 1997 he was appointed as the General Secretary of the SLFP for the first time, from which he later resigned. In August 2000 Sirisena tried to become general-secretary of the SLFP but was beaten by S. B. Dissanayake. Maithripala Sirisena was instead appointed one the Deputy Presidents of SLFP. He became general-secretary of the SLFP in October 2001 following Dissanayake’s defection to the United National Party (UNP).

Minister of Mahaweli Development

Sirisena was appointed Deputy Minister of Irrigation in the new PA government led by Chandrika Kumaratunga in 1994. In 1997 President Kumaratunga promoted him to the Cabinet, appointing him Minister of Mahaweli Development. While in this office he initiated many concessionary grants to improve the standard of the farming community. He was also responsible for influencing the government’s decision to give farmers a bag of fertilizer for Rs. 350 in order to combat the food crisis at the time. Maithripala Sirisena also saved the Paddy Marketing Board from privatization converting it into a government institution when he became the Agriculture Minister, in 2005. The Paddy Marketing Board continues to regulate the prices of paddy to this day. He also began important irrigation projects such as Moragahakanda, Kalu and Walawe rivers. He was re-elected to Parliament at the 2000 parliamentary election and retained his ministerial portfolio.

Opposition

He was re-elected at the 2001 parliamentary election but the PA lost the election and so Sirisena lost his ministerial position.

In January 2004 the SLFP joined forced with the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna to form a political alliance called the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Sirisena was re-elected at the 2004 parliamentary election as a UPFA candidate. President Kumaratunga appointed him Minister of River Basin Development and Rajarata Development in the new UPFA government in April 2004. Maithripala Sirisena was also appointed Leader of the House. Sirisena’s ministerial portfolio was renamed as Minister of Irrigation, Mahaweli and Rajarata Development in July 2005. He resigned as Leader of the House in August 2005.

Minister of Agriculture

After the 2005 presidential election newly elected President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed Sirisena Minister of Agriculture, Environment, Irrigation and Mahaweli Development in November 2005. On 27 March 2006 Sirisena’s personal secretary M. L. Dharmasiri was shot dead by unknown gunmen in Aranangawila. Following a cabinet reshuffle in January 2007 he was appointed Minister of Agricultural Development and Agrarian Services Development by President Rajapaksa.

In order to combat the 2007–08 world food price crisis, Sirisena initiated a plan under the scheme ‘Api Wavamu – Rata Nagamu’ to improve local food production on national scale. Festivals of tilling were conducted in each divisional secretariat every year leading to the re cultivation of more than 1 million abandoned paddy fields under the programme. The project was considered a great success being acknowledged as his green revolution.

While the serving as the Minister of Agriculture Sirisena also served as the acting Defence Minister for several occasions during the Sri Lankan civil war. Maithripala Sirisena was acting defence minister during the last two weeks of the civil war when some of the worst alleged war crimes were committed.

Assassination attempts

Sirisena has claimed that LTTE may have tried to assassinate him on at least five occasions. Sirisena narrowly escaped death on 9 October 2008 when a convoy he was part of was attacked by a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’s suicide bomber at Piriwena Junction in Boralesgamuwa, Colombo. One person was killed and seven injured.

Minister of Health

Sirisena was re-elected at the 2010 parliamentary election and was appointed Minister of Health in April 2010. During his time Sirisena sought to combat cigarette and alcohol consumption within the country. He introduced a National Medicinal Drug Policy based on that of the Sri Lanka National Pharmaceuticals Policy of Seneka Bibile and brought the Cigarette and Alcohol act to parliament against cigarette packaging that include pictorial warnings. The act recommended 80% of packaging include the pictorial warnings, however this was reduced to 60% due to pressure form many multinational companies and from some areas of the government itself. In May 2014 Sirisena was elected as one of the Vice Presidents of the World Health Assembly.

Committees

Committees Involved
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Irrigation and Water Resources Management
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Health
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Agriculture
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Co-operatives and Internal Trade
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Livestock & Rural Community Development
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Defence
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Consultative Committee on Defence and Urban Development
Committees Served
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Committee on Parliamentary Business (14th Parliament)
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Committee of Selection (14th Parliament)
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Committee on High Posts (14th Parliament)
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Select Committee of Parliament on Traffic Accidents (14th Parliament)
  • Parliament of Sri Lanka Select Committee of Parliament to Recommend and Report on Political and Constitutional Measures to Empower the Peoples of Sri Lanka to Live as One Nation (14th Parliament)

Presidency

Presidential campaign

Presidential Standard adopted by Maithripala Sirisena

Following days of speculation in the media, Sirisena announced on 21 November 2014 that he would challenge incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the 2015 presidential election as the common opposition candidate. Maithripala Sirisena claimed that everything in Sri Lanka was controlled by one family and that the country was heading towards a dictatorship with rampant corruption, nepotism and a breakdown of the rule of law. He has pledged to abolish the executive presidency within 100 days of being elected, repeal the controversial eighteenth amendment, re-instate the seventeenth amendment and appoint UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. Following the announcement Sirisena, along with several other ministers who supported him, were stripped of their ministerial positions and expelled from the SLFP. His ministerial security and vehicles were also withdrawn.

Sirisena released his manifesto, titled A Compassionate Maithri Governance — A Stable Country, on 19 December 2014 at a rally at Viharamahadevi Park. The main pledge in the manifesto was the replacement of the executive presidency with a Westminster style cabinet but the manifesto acknowledged that Sirisena would need the support of the parliament to amend the constitution. The manifesto also made a commitment to replace the open list proportional representation system with a mixture of first-past-the-post and PR for electing MPs. Parliamentary elections will be held in April 2015 after the constitution has been amended.Independent commissions would be established to oversee the judiciary, police, elections department, Auditor-General’s Department and Attorney-General’s Department. The Commission on Bribery and Corruption would be strengthened and political diplomatic appointments annulled. Populist measures in the manifesto included a commitment to write-off 50% of farmers’ loans, reduce fuel prices by removing taxes and a salary increase of Rs.10,000 for public servants. Public spending on health would increase from 1.8% of GDP to 3% of GDP whilst that on education would increase from 1.7% of GDP to 6% of GDP. The manifesto also stated that the casino licences granted to Kerry Packer’s Crown Resort and John Keells Holdings’s Water Front will be cancelled. Political victims during Rajapaksa’s rule, including Sarath Fonseka and Shirani Bandaranayake, would be re-appointed. In a separate document Maithripala Sirisena pledged that, whilst resisting any international investigation, he would establish an independent domestic inquiry into the alleged war crimes during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War.

Sirisena was declared the winner after receiving 51.28% of all votes cast compared to Rajapaksa’s 47.58%. Sirsena was the winner in 12 electoral districts whilst Rajapaksa was victorious in the remaining 10. On the contrary Rajapakse won in 90 electorates while Sirisena managed to win only in 70 electorates. The result was generally seen as a shock. When Rajapaksa called the election in November 2014 he had looked certain to win.

Transition

According to Mangala Samaraweera and Rajitha Senaratne, senior figures in the Sirisena campaign, Rajapaksa attempted to stage a coup in order to stay in power when it became clear he was going to lose the election. They alleged that Rajapaksa and his brother Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the Defence Secretary, summoned Commander of the Army Daya Ratnayake, Inspector General of Police N. K. Illangakoon and Attorney General Yuwanjana Wanasundera to Temple Trees at around 1 am on 9 January 2015. Rajapaksa allegedly pressured the three officials to deploy troops, annul the election results and declare a state of emergency but they refused According to the Colombo Telegraph Rajapaksa also wanted to dissolve parliament It was only then Rajapaksa decided to concede defeat and summoned Ranil Wickremesinghe to assure him of a smooth transition of power.

A spokesman for Rajapaksa has denied the allegations as baseless. The army and police have also denied the allegations. The new government is to investigate the alleged coup attempt.

Sirsena was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s sixth executive president before Supreme Court judge K. Sripavan in Independence Square, Colombo at 6.20pm on 9 January 2015. It is custom for the president to be sworn in before the chief justice but Maithripala Sirisena had refused to be sworn in before Chief Justice Peiris who had been appointed by Rajapaksa after the controversial impeachment of the previous chief justice. Immediately afterwards, Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister before Sirsena. After being sworn in Sirisena stated that he would only serve one term.

100-day reform program

Sirisena’s 100 days Program cabinet
10 most senior members
Office Name Term
 
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mangala Samaraweera° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Defence Maithripala Sirisena Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Home Affairs Joseph Michael Perera Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen*° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senaratne° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam° Jan-Aug
 
Minister of Agriculture Duminda Dissanayake° Jan-Aug
*Retained from previous administration
°Retained after August elections

On 10 January 2015 former minister Nimal Siripala de Silva announced that the UPFA would support Sirisena’s 100-day program unconditionally. Addressing the nation from Temple of the Tooth the following day, Sirisena invited all political parties to join to form a national unity government. Shortly afterwards a group of 21 SLFP MPs pledged their support for Sirisena. According to Sirisena’s team he has enough support in parliament to secure a majority.

With an interim cabinet formed on 12 January, Sirisena called the Parliamentary elections two years ahead of schedule for 23 April. It is to be carried out after the 100-day reform program against corruption. The president will establish a stable cabinet after the elections. Sirisena has taken the defence portfolio for himself, and appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as minister of reconciliation, policy development and economic affairs, to go with his Prime Ministership.

Sirisena has also lifted a ban on news websites, blocked under his predecessor, and promised to enact a Right to Information bill. Reports also say he is ready to reinstate Shirani Bandaranayake, the former Chief Justice whose Impeachment Mahinda Rajapaksa engineered two years ago.

Parliamentary elections

In his election manifesto Maithripala Sirisena had promised a 100-day reform program planning to dissolve the parliament and holding new elections on 23 April 2015. However, Srisena and his government faced opposition from a large contingent of legislators loyal to Mahinda Rajapaksa, and, although some reforms, such as the curtailing of presidential powers and re-introducing the two term limit, were introduced by the passing of the nineteenth amendment, others, notably electoral reforms, were not carried out. With electoral reforms stalled and the 100-day reform program falling behind schedule, the UNP started calling for parliamentary elections. Sirisena dissolved parliament on 26 June 2015.

The date of the election was set for 17 August 2015, with the new parliament is expected to convene on 1 September 2015. Nominations took place between 6 July 2015 and 13 July 2015. The UPFA/SLFP Mps who remained loyal to former President Rajapaksa called for Rajapaksa to be made the UPFA’s prime ministerial candidate for the election. This alarmed those members of the UPFA/SLPF who had supported Maithripala Sirisena during the presidential election. They urged Sirisena to prevent Rajapaksa’s return to politics but Sirisena remained silent on the matter. After the parliamentary election was called it was announced that Rajapaksa would contest but not as the prime ministerial candidate which would be decided after the election. Feeling “betrayed” by Sirisena, his supporters in the UPFA/SLFP allied themselves with the UNP to form the United National Front for Good Governance. On 8 July 2015, several factions accused Sirisena of having betrayed the mandate that was given to him by the people in the 2015 presidential election over nominating his predecessor Rajapaksa, who faces various allegations of human rights violations, to contest in this election. Despite his assurances to the media that he would not grant nominations to pro-Rajapaksa parliamentarians who were involved in various criminal activities, some were nominated. On 14 July 2015, at a special press conference, President Maithripala Sirisena announced he would remain impartial during the elections after granting the nomination to Rajapaksa, hinted that Rajapaksa could be defeated in the parliamentary election similar to the presidential election.

The United National Front for Good Governance became the largest group in Parliament after securing 45.66% of votes and 106 seats whilst the UPFA won 42.38% of votes and 95 seats. Rajapaksa quickly conceded defeat in his attempt to become Prime Minister. The result left the UNFGG seven seats short of a majority in Parliament. However, on 20 August 2015 the central committee of the SLFP agreed to form a national government with the UNP for two years. Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Prime Minister on 21 August 2015. Immediately afterwards a memorandum of understanding to work together in Parliament was signed by acting SLFP general secretary Duminda Dissanayake and UNP general secretary Kabir Hashim.

The elections saw minor violence and violations of election laws but was generally incident free, peaceful, free and fair. Sirisena was praised for “shepherding an inclusive process” during the elections by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The European External Action Service spokesperson also stated that the election was “genuine, well administered and peaceful.”

National government

Three UNFGG cabinet ministers were sworn in on 24 August 2015. A further 39 cabinet ministers, 28 from the UNFGG and 11 from the UPFA, were sworn in on 4 September 2015. Three more cabinet ministers, one from the UNFGG and two from the UPFA, were sworn in on 9 September 2015. 19 state ministers (11 UNFGG, 8 UPFA) and 21 deputy ministers (11 UNFGG, 10 UPFA) were also sworn in on 9 September 2015. Two more deputy ministers, both from the UPFA, were sworn in on 10 September 2015.

Nepotism

Despite pledges made during the presidential campaign, Sirisena has himself been accused of nepotism since becoming president. A few days after Sirisena took power in January 2015, his brother Kumarasinghe Sirisena was appointed chairman of the state-owned Sri Lanka Telecom. The appointment came despite objections from Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and several other cabinet ministers. Sirisena’s son-in-law Thilina Suranjith Wewelpanawa (Chathurika’s husband) was appointed public relations officer at the Ministry of Defence in February 2015 – Sirisena is Minister of Defence. In September 2015 Sirisena’s son Daham accompanied his father as he visited New York City for the Seventieth session of the United Nations General Assembly. Despite having no official role, Daham Sirisena sat with the Sri Lankan delegation in the United Nations General Assembly and accompanied his father as he met world leaders such as Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga. Maithripala Sirisena‘s daughter Chathurika, who also has no official role, has been the guest of honour/chief guest at several Ministry of Defence events. At another event where Chathurika was chief guest, she was accompanied by members of the Presidential Security Division. In September 2015 Chathurika was accompanied by government officials and police officers as she went on a private “fact finding mission” to Mahawelithenna near Welikanda.

Domestic policy

Death Penalty

Sirisena commented in October 2015, after a series of high profile incidents of rape, killing and sexual abuse, that Maithripala Sirisena supports a dialogue on the introduction of the Death Penalty should it be approved by Parliament.

Comments about Enrique Iglesias Concert

In 2015, Maithripala Sirisena criticized and called for the organisers of an Enrique Iglesias concert of Colombo to be whipped, after the behavior of some female fans.”I don’t advocate that these uncivilized women who removed their brassieres should be beaten with toxic stingray tails, but those who organised such an event should be.” He commented this on public meeting.

Foreign policy

President Maithripala Sirisena on a State Visit to India, February 2015
President Maithripala Sirisena on a State Visit to India, February 2015

With the country becoming ever closer to China, during the previous administration, while departing from the traditional ally of India, Maithripala Sirisena says he will treat key Asian countries, India, China, Pakistan and Japan equally. Sri Lanka has moved closer to China, especially in terms of naval agreements. India and Sri Lanka in February 2015 signed a nuclear energy deal to improve relationships. Recently elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Sirisena in New Delhi stated that: “India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor and friend. Our destinies are interlinked.” President Maithripala Sirisena says the foreign policy of the current government is to work cooperatively with all nations, but with an emphasis on Asia. “My Government will pay more attention towards an Asia-centric middle-path foreign policy.”

Recognition and public image

Although legally entitled to use the style His Excellency as the President of Sri Lanka, he requested the media and the people of Sri Lanka, avoid using the style and also to avoid using the word First Lady for his wife, and requested only to use “President’s wife”.

Family and personal life

maithripala sirisena family photosSirisena is married to Jayanthi Pushpa Kumari, they have two daughters, Chathurika, Dharani, and a son, Daham.

Sirisena is a teetotaler, vegetarian a Buddhist.

President Sirisena’s youngest brother, Priyantha Sirisena, died on 28 March 2015 after an axe attack two days earlier in his hometown of Polonnaruwa, 215 kilometres north-east of the capital Colombo. Priyantha was immediately transferred to hospital in a critical condition, where he died from severe head injuries. At that time, President Sirisena was in China on a state visit.

President Sirisena’s daughter Chathurika Sirisena launched her 1st booked title Janadhipathi Thaththa in 2017. This is the first biography written by a daughter of a President in Sri Lanka.
From Wikipedia

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