Dingiri Banda Wijetunga

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Dingiri Banda Wijetunga
4th President of Sri Lanka
In office
7 May 1993 – 12 November 1994
Acting: 1 May 1993 – 7 May 1993
Prime MinisterRanil Wickremasinghe
Chandrika Kumaratunga
Preceded byRanasinghe Premadasa
Succeeded byChandrika Kumaratunga
9th Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
In office
6 March 1989 – 7 May 1993
PresidentRanasinghe Premadasa
Preceded byRanasinghe Premadasa
Succeeded byRanil Wickremasinghe
Leader of the United National Party
In office
7 May 1993 – 12 November 1994
Preceded byRanasinghe Premadasa
Succeeded byRanil Wickremasinghe
Personal details
Born(1916-02-15)15 February 1916
Udunuwara, British Ceylon
(now in Sri Lanka)
Died21 September 2008(2008-09-21) (aged 92)
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Political partyUnited National Party
SpouseWimalawathi Kumarihami
ChildrenChithrangani Wijetunga

Sri Lankabhimanya Dingiri Banda Wijetunga (Sinhala: ඩිංගිරි බණ්ඩා විජේතුංග,Tamil: டிங்கிரி பண்ட விஜேதுங்க; 15 February 1916 – 21 September 2008) was the fourth President of Sri Lanka from 7 May 1993 to 12 November 1994, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka from 3 March 1989 to 7 May 1993 and the Governor of North Western province, Sri Lanka from 1988 to 1989. He was awarded Sri Lanka's highest award to a civilian Sri Lankabhimanya in 1993 by President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Early life and education[edit]

Wijetunga was born on 15 February 1916 to Wijethunga Mudiyanselage Delgahapitiya Arachchila and his wife Manamperi Mudiyanselage Palingumanike Manamperi, as the eldest in a middle-class Sinhala Buddhist family living on the outskirts of the then Udunuwara parliamentary seat in the Kandy District of the Central Province in Sri Lanka. He completed his primary education at Waligalla Central College and thereafter moved on to St Andrew's College in Gampola.

Early career[edit]

After completing his schooling, he joined Ceylon Police as a constable in 1939 and served in Borella, Fort and Maradana and left service in 1942. Subsequently, he joined the Co-operative Department as a Co-operative Inspector thereafter from 1947 to 1959.

Political career[edit]

He was closely associated with veteran politicians like George E. de Silva and A. Ratnayaka. A. Ratnayake who was then Minister of Food and Co-operatives in the D.S. Senanayake Cabinet took him as his Private Secretary.

He joined the United National Party in 1946 and unsuccessfully contested the Kadugannawa electorate in the 1956 general election, the Yatinuwara electorate in the March 1960 general election and the Udunuwara electorate in the July 1960 general election. He entered parliament for the first time when he successfully contested the Udunuwara electorate at the 1965 general election.

He lost the Udunuwara electorate in 1970, but was returned to Parliament in the 1977 UNP landslide, being appointed Cabinet Minister of Information and Broadcasting in the J.R. Jayewardene administration. During this regime, Wijetunga functioned in various ministerial capacities holding the portfolios of Posts and Telecommunication, Power, Highways and Agricultural Development.

He served briefly as the Governor of North Western province in 1988 before returning to Parliamentary politics a few months later. In the last general election he contested he secured the largest number of preferential votes in the Kandy District.

Prime minister[edit]

Wijetunga was surprisingly appointed Prime Minister in 1989 by President Ranasinghe Premadasa. He also held the Ministries of Finance and Labour and Vocational Training in addition to being the State Minister of Defence in the Premadasa administration.

Lalith Athulathmudali was shot dead in April 1993 while campaigning for the Provincial Council elections. The killing provoked widespread protests against the government and allegations were hurled at the President for complicity in the assassination. A week later President Premadasa was also murdered in Colombo on May Day 1993 in a suicide bombing widely considered to be an act of the Tamil Tigers. Wijetunga became acting president until parliament convened to elect a successor to the slain president under the terms of the Constitution.

Wijetunga was elected unanimously by Parliament to complete the remainder of Premadasa's term and was sworn in as the third executive President on 7 May 1993.


Presidential Standard of Dingiri Banda Wijetunga

His rule coincided with the rise of Chandrika Kumaratunga within the ranks of the SLFP.

He did not believe that peace could be achieved by negotiating with the LTTE. The Eastern Province was liberated from the LTTE during his tenure except for Thoppigala.

After a decisive defeat in the Southern Provincial Council Election in 1994, he dissolved parliament prematurely in June of that year.

However his party was defeated in the 1994 general election and Wijetunga appointed Kumaratunga as Prime Minister. Even though under the constitution, Wijetunga was bestowed with wide powers, he chose not to exercise much authority, letting the Prime Minister manage the affairs of the country.

He decided not to contest the presidential election and he appointed Lucky Jayawardena as the organizer for his electorate Udunuwara. He relinquished office in November 1994 after Kumaratunga was elected President by an unprecedented majority. His political career was succeeded by Jayawardena (MP).


D.B. Wijetunga died after a prolonged illness around 9.30 am on 21 September 2008 at Kandy General Hospital.[1] He was 92.[2]

Further reading[edit]

  • P. Jayaram (31 July 1994). "Sri Lankan President Wijetunga's decision to hold snap poll catches parties off guard". India Today.


2. Obituary Associated Press

External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by President of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Sri Lanka
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by
Office created
Governor of the North Western Province
Succeeded by