WWW Virtual Library - Sri Lanka

Political History of Sri Lanka

 
A Chronological Presentation Dating from the Colonial Period

(Source: @Ministry of Constitutional Affairs)

Year

 

1505

The coastal areas of Sri Lanka falls into the hands the Portuguese

1521 – 1594

The rise and fall of the Sitawaka Kingdom The Kingdom totally collapsed after the death of King Rajasingha (1593). Sitawaka, during its existance presented one of the most vigorous oppositions to Imperialist rule in Sri Lankan history. 1597, the Portuguese emissary, the captain-general, took formal possession of the kingdom.

1580

Don Juan Dharmapla, the Sri Lankan Prince who was a puppet in the hands of the Portuguese, makes out a deed donating his dominions to the King of Portugal

1597

Dharmapala dies The Portuguese Emissary, the captain General takes formal possession of the Kingdom During this period the Portuguese Missionaries have been successfully working on converting a large number of Sinhalese Buddhists and also Jaffna Tamils into Christianity

1619

The Jaffna Peninsula is added to the Portuguese territory

1630

Yet another attempt by the Portuguese to annex the Kandyan kingdom to their territory, which would have assured total control over the island fails, as the Kandyans ambush and massacre an ambitious Portuguese force

1638

The Dutch begin negotiations with King Rajasinha II of Kandy In a treaty between the King and the Dutch, the King is assured assistance in his war against the Portuguese in exchange for a monopoly of the major trade goods, particularly cinnamon. The King also promises the Dutch's war-related expenses.

1639

The Dutch captures the Eastern ports of Trincomalee and Batticaloa in and restores them to the Sinhalese King

1640

The Dutuch capture Galle and Negombo They refuse to hand them over to the Kandyan king, fraudulently claiming that the king is due to reimburse a vast amount of their military expenditure

1656

The Portuguese surrender Colombo to the Dutch

1658

The Portuguese surrender Jaffna to the Dutch The Dutch were able to gain political control over the country, now that the Kandyan kingdom was trapped in the highlands and they took effective control over trade. Their contribution to the judicial system of the country is still significant. They were able to leave an impact on the administrative system too

1796

Britain gains control over the Dutch

1797

London decides to retain Ceylon as a British possession. The British East India Company shares in the administration of the island The Governor – responsible for law and order The Director of East India Company – Responsible for financial and commercial matters

1801

The Dutch formally hands over the control to the British (Peace of Amiens) Sri Lanka becomes the “first crown colony” of the British

1803

The first Kandyan War

1815

The British and the Kandyan chieftains sign the Kandyan Convention

1829

British Colonial Office sends a Royal Commission of Eastern Inquiry--the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission--to assess the administration of the island.

1833

Adoption and enforcement of the Colebrooke-Cameron Commission Proposals under the Charter of Justice

1910

A small electorate of Sri Lankans gains permission to send one of their members to the Legislative Council. Other seats held by Sri Lankans retained the old practice of communal representation.

1927

A royal commission under the Earl of Donoughmore visits Sri Lanka to ascertain why representative government as chartered by the 1924 constitution had not succeeded and to suggest constitutional changes necessary for the island's eventual self-rule.

1931

The Donoughmore Constitution Universal adult franchise and an experimental system of government to be run by executive committees is established

1944

Lord Soulbury is appointed head of a commission charged with the task of examining a new constitutional draft that the Sri Lankan ministers had proposed. The commission makes recommendations that lead to a new constitution. The constitution was amended to incorporate a provision giving Sri Lanka dominion status at the end of World War II

1947

The Ceylon Independence Act sees daylight after negotiations with the Sri Lankan leaders The First Election in the History of the Island, D S Senanayake elected as the First Prime Minister

February 4th 1948

Ceylon gains freedom

1951

Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) was created by S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike

1952

The Second Election. United National Party (UNP) wins

1953

The Third Election. UNP win again. Sir John Kotelawala elected as Prime Minister.

1956

Fourth Election.  SLFP wins. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike becomes the prime minister

1959

Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike is assassinated on the 25th of September

1960

Fifth Election. The Fourth Parliament of Sri Lanka lasts for only thirty days as the newly elected Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake is defeated by a motion of no-confidence.

1960

Sixth Election. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of the SLFP becomes the prime minister and the world's first woman prime minister. SLFP formes a coalition government with small parties.

1965

UNP wins in the Election and Dudley Senanayake becomes the prime minister.

1970

SLFP-led coalition wins at the election and Sirimavo Bandaranaike is the Prime Minister.

1972

The new Republican Constitution is introduced. Lanka is re-named ‘Sri Lanka’

1977

UNP wins the election and J.R. Jayawardene is the prime minister.

1978

A new constitution introduced creating the powerful Executive Presidency. R Premadasa becomes the Prime Minister of President J R  Jayawardene’s Cabinet

1982

Repeated victory for J R Jayawardene at the Presidential election

1982

The UNP majority Parliament is extended until 1989 at the referendum

1989

Presidential election.  R Premadasa of the UNP is the new President

1989

Parliament election: UNP wins the majority seats. D.B.Wijetunge becomes the new Prime Minister

1993

President R Premadasa falls victim to a suicide bomber marking another death in a line of political assassinations.  D B Wijetunge assumes office as the new President and  Ranil Wickramasinghe is his Prime Minister.

1994

Presidential election: Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga of the SLFP led coalition People's Alliance (PA) gains victory

1994

Parliament election: Sirimavo Bandaranaike becomes the Prime Minister as PA gets the majority seats.

1998

Ratnasiri Wickramanayake becomes the Prime Minister

2000

Presidential election: Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga of the SLFP led coalition People's Alliance (PA) win the election

2001

Parliament election: UNP-led coalition United National Front (UNF) win majority seats.

(Source: @Ministry of Constitutional Affairs)


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