CHANDRIKA KUMARATUNGA Biography - Polititians


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Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (born June 29, 1945) is the President of Sri Lanka since 1994. She is the leader of Sri Lanka Freedom Party and the political alliance of her party which ruled Sri Lanka was called People’s Alliance. She currently heads the United People’s Freedom Alliance.


Her father, Solomon Bandaranaike, was a government minister at the time of her birth and later became Prime Minister - he was assassinated in 1959 when Chandrika was fourteen. After his death, his wife and Chandrika’s mother, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world’s first female Prime Minister in 1961.


She spent five years at the University of Paris from where she graduated from Sciences Po (in political science).


She is said to be fluent in Sinhala, English and French.


Chandrika married actor and politician Vijaya Kumartunga in 1978 who was assassinated in 1988.


Chandrika herself was elected Prime Minister of a People’s Alliance government on August 19, 1994 and President in the presidential elections held shortly thereafter in November, an elections which ended 17 years of UNP rule. She appointed her mother to succeed her as Prime Minister. Early in her term she made conciliatory moves towards the separatist Tamil Tigers to attempt to end the on-going civil war, but failed, and has since pursued a more military-based strategy against them.


She was re-elected in 1999, having been injured by a Tamil suicide bomber while campaigning. In December 2001, she suffered a setback when her political opponent Ranil Wickremasinghe took office as Sri Lanka’s new prime minister.


The People’s Alliance lost to the UNP. However, she continued as President of Sri Lanka although her relationship with the Wickremasinghe government was a strained one.


In February 2002, Mr Wickremasinghe’s government and the LTTE signed a permanent ceasefire agreement, paving the way for talks to end the long-running conflict. In December, the government and the rebels agreed to share power during peace talks in Norway. Mrs. Kumaratunga opposed the leniency shown by the Wickremasinghe government and in May 2003, she indicated her willingness to sack Mr. Wickremasinghe’s government if she felt it was making too many concessions to the rebels.


On November 4, 2003, whilst the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was visiting the United States, she suspended parliament and deployed troops to take control of the country, effectively putting the country into a State of Emergency.


According to news reports, this was motivated by a difference in policy between her and the Prime Minister regarding a negotiated peace settlement with the Tamil Tiger Terrorists.


however, President Kumaratunga’s People’s Alliance party (PA) and the leftistJanatha Vimukthi Peramuna or JVP (Liberation People’s Front) formed the United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in January 2004. Having won the election held on 2nd April 2004 the UPFA formed the government. The leftist JVP for the first time in its history is now a partner of the Sri Lankan Government.