Sri Lanka’s longest-serving party leader and former Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, on Monday announced quitting the party.
The announcement came after his party suffered a humiliating defeat at last week’s parliamentary elections, a party spokesman said.
Wickremesinghe, 71, announced he would quit as the leader of the United National party (UNP) after he lost his parliamentary seat, ending 43 consecutive years as member of the parliament.
According to the General-Secretary of the party, Akila Kariyawasm, Wickremesinghe decided to step down from the UNP leadership position to allow the party to name a new leader.
Wickremesinghe was thrust into party leadership after former president Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated by a Tamil rebel suicide bomber in 1993.
Since then, he has served four terms as Prime Minister and acted as opposition leader in parliament five times.
The UNP suffered its worst ever defeat at Wednesday’s parliamentary elections, as it was left with just one solidarity seat.
Since 1947, the party has ruled the country for a total of 42 years.
However, most of its popular members quit UNP before the elections and contested under a different party known as the United Peoples’ Front (SJB), returning 54 members to the new parliament.