Sirimavo Bandaranaike

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Bandaranaike, Sirimavo

(sērēmä`vō bändränī`kē), 1916–2000, Sri Lankan political leader, b. Sirimavo Ratwatte. She and her husband, S. W. R. D. BandaranaikeBandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias,
1899–1959, prime minister (1956–59) of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka); husband of Sirimavo Bandaranaike. A lawyer educated in England, he entered politics and rose to hold a cabinet position.
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, converted to Buddhism from Christianity before he became prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1956. After his assassination (1959), she became the first woman in the world to serve as a nation's prime minister. She led the Sri Lanka Freedom party, which her husband had founded, and headed two coalition governments (1960–65, 1970–77). As prime minister, she emphasized Buddhist and Sinhalese nationalist policies and promoted a new constitution (1972) that proclaimed a republic and changed the country's name to Sri Lanka. The coalition broke up in 1975, and her government was defeated in 1977. She was expelled from parliament in 1980 and stripped (1980–82) of her civil rights because of abuses as prime minister. She reentered politics in the late 1980s and was an unsuccessful candidate for president in 1988. In 1994 her daughter, Chandrika KumaratungaKumaratunga, Chandrika Bandaranaike
, 1945–, Sri Lankan politician, president of Sri Lanka (1994–2005). The daughter of two former prime ministers, the assassinated (1959) Solomon Bandaranaike and his wife, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, and the widow of Vijaya Kumartunga,
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, was elected president, and appointed Bandaranaike prime minister, a post she held until she resigned because of ill health in 2000.

Bandaranaike, Sirimavo

 

Born Apr. 17, 1916, in Balangoda. Political and state figure of Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

After the murder of her husband S. Bandaranaike by reactionaries in 1959, she became one of the leaders of the Ceylon Freedom Party, which he had founded. In May 1960, Bandaranaike was elected head of this party. She was prime minister of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) from 1960 to 1965—the first woman in the world to hold the position of prime minister. Bandaranaike’s government carried out a policy of political democratization and progressive economic reforms; it supported peaceful coexistence of states with different social structures. In 1970 she again headed the government.