Junius Richard Jayewardene

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Junius R. Jayewardene

Junius Richard Jayewardene ( Sinhalese ජුනියස් රිචඩ් ජයවර්ධන , Tamil ஜூனியஸ் ரிச்சட் ஜயவர்தனா , born September 17, 1906 in Colombo ; † November 1, 1996 ibid) was President of Sri Lanka from February 4, 1978 to January 2, 1989 .


JR Jayewardene was active in Ceylon politics since 1940. He was a founding member of the United National Party (UNP), of which he became leader in 1973. In July 1977 the UNP won the election and received a constitution-changing majority in parliament because of the current British-style majority voting system . Jayewardene was elected Prime Minister .

During his tenure, the conflict, which had been smoldering for decades, escalated with the Tamil minority, who held a proportion of the parliamentary seats guaranteed by the constitution. Despite the differentiated spectrum of political aspirations of the various Tamil parties, Jayewardene declared them to be separatist enemies of the constitution and forbade them to exercise their mandates on this basis. The result was an enormous influx of the previously rather insignificant militant actual separatists , the LTTE ( Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , Tamil Tigers for short ).

President Jayewardene gives President Ronald Reagan and the American people a baby elephant

In 1978 Jayewardene pushed through a constitutional reform in the absence of Tamil MPs. Since then, Sri Lanka has had a presidential constitution similar to the French one. Jayewardene became president and was celebrated as "father of the nation". He appointed his closest confidante Ranasinghe Premadasa as head of government. He had the old royal capital Kotte at the gates of Colombo expanded into the new seat of parliament and government at huge financial expense and renamed it Sri Jayewardenepura after his name in 1983 .

An assassination attempt by the LTTE on July 24, 1983 brought the Tamil conflict to an open military outbreak. Sri Lanka sank into civil war. It was not until July 1987 that India's Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi sent a protection force of 60,000 men to end the violence. Even a deal with the Tamil Tigers could not restore calm.

On January 2, 1989, the term of office of the aged President Jayewardene ended. Premadasa was elected to succeed him. In 1990 the Indian peacekeeping force was withdrawn without any success. On May 1, 1993, Jayewardene's successor, Premadasa, was killed in a Tamil Tiger bombing.

Junius Richard Jayewardene died of natural causes in 1996.