Premadasa, Ranasinghe

Premadasa, Ranasinghe, 1924–1993, Sri Lankan political leader. As a member of the Ceylon Labour party, he worked as a labor organizer and was elected deputy mayor of Colombo in 1955. He then joined (1956) the United National party (UNP; 1956) and served in the Sri Lankan parliament (1965–89). As leader of the national assembly and minister of local government, housing, and construction (1977–88), and then as prime minister (1978–88) and president (1989–93), Premadasa worked to improve the lives of the country's poor by building low-cost housing; improving the country's infrastructure, education, and health care; and developing small-scale businesses, especially in the garment industry. He also was regarded as an autocratic ruler who expelled rivals from the UNP. Premadasa opposed the use of Indian forces in Sri Lanka to fight off ethnic Tamil separatists, and used the army to suppress the Sinhalese People's Liberation Front, a group of extremist Buddhists who opposed any accomodation with the separatists. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber (believed to be a Tamil rebel), and was succeeded as president by Prime Minister Dingiri Banda Wijetunga.

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