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Ranasinghe Premadasa (1989-1993)

PremadasaAt the general elections held in 1989, the UNP was returned to power, but with a smaller majority. the United National Party fielded Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa as its Presidential candidate. Premadasa won the presidential elections and became the President. This time the SLFP did not have any problem deciding their candidate as SLFP leader Sirimavo Bandaranaike had been given her civic rights by this time.

In the election held on December 19, 1988 the polling was relatively less due to unsettled conditions in many parts of the country. Only 5,186,223 voters (55.32 %) out of the 9,375,742 registered voters cast their votes. At the final count incumbent Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa emerged victorious obtaining 2,569,199 votes (50.43% of the total valid votes) against the 2,289,960 (44.95 %) votes obtained by his main opponent Sirimavo Bandaranaike from the SLFP.

Mr. D.B. Wijetunga was appointed Prime Minister. The major issues raised at these elections were the presence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in the country and the provision of greater relief to the poor. Within a short period of assumption of office, by the new President, the Indian Peace Keeping Force was asked to leave the country.

A state sponsored poverty alleviation programme, the Janasaviya, was introduced in 1989 in a phased manner among the districts. School children were also provided with free school uniforms in 1993. The housing development program of the Government was enhanced and pursued vigorously. An accelerated programme to divest public sector ventures to the private sector was launched, and came to be called "peoplisation".

The garments industry, which had become a leading export oriented activity, was further expanded with the implementation of the Two Hundred Garment Factories Programme, whereby special incentives were given to location of garment factories in rural areas. A section of government and opposition members of Parliament attempted to impeach the President, but failed.

President Premadasa was killed in a suicide blast carried out by a LTTE cadre on May 1, 1993 when he was participating in the UNP May Day rally and D. B. Wijetunga, the then Prime Minister was elevated to the Presidency.

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