BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: South Asia
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 



The BBC's Amal Jayasinghe reports from Sri Lanka
"Condolences poured in from around the world"
 real 28k

Saturday, 14 October, 2000, 14:23 GMT
Tearful farewell to Sri Lanka's 'mother'
sirima
Mourners pay their respects to Sirima Bandaranaike
Thousands of Sri Lankans bid a tearful farewell to Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world's first woman prime minister, at a state funeral on Saturday.

Mrs Bandaranaike, 84, fell ill and died shortly after casting her vote in Sri Lanka's general election on Tuesday.


funeral
President Chandrika Kumaratunga, right, joins relatives offering prayers
The funeral brought the war-torn island to a virtual standstill as Sri Lankans watched the final farewell to "the mother of the nation" on television.

In her last will, Mrs Bandaranaike asked to be buried in a simple ceremony.

But the government accorded her a state funeral with military honours, including a 19-gun salute.

Members of the security forces stood with their heads bowed as the coffin, mounted on a gun carriage and draped with the national lion flag, was driven around her home constituency of Attanagalle for local residents to pay their respects.

A 2km stretch of the main highway near her home north of Colombo was closed to allow mourners to line the way.

Chanted prayers

The funeral was the culmination of two days of national mourning for the shy housewife turned three-time prime minister, known affectionately as Mrs B.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga - Bandaranaike's daughter - and her politically estranged brother Anura were visibly shaken as Buddhist monks chanted prayers and blessings during the ceremony.

Mourners included Indian Vice President Krishna Kant, foreign dignitaries and local political leaders.


Mrs Kumaratunga
President Kumaratunga paid respects to her late mother
World leaders, including Indian President K R Narayanan and Chinese Premier Li Peng, have sent condolence messages and tributes to Mrs Bandaranaike who was well-respected for her statesmanship and influence in the Third World.

Mrs Bandaranaike will be buried alongside her husband Solomon Bandaranaike on the family estate.

It was his assassination 40 years ago that propelled Mrs Bandaranaike into a political career.

She retired from politics only last month, and her death cast a shadow over this week's parliamentary elections.

She leaves a political dynasty. Her second daughter is head of state and the youngest son is a prominent figure in the main opposition.

The two siblings are known to quarrel in public over their political differences, but the funeral has brought them together in emotional scenes.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's shaky new coalition appeared in danger of collapsing after the main Muslim party on Saturday issued a 100-day deadline to President Kumaratunga to implement controversial constitutional reforms.

The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), whose support helped President Kumaratunga's People's Alliance (PA) form a coalition, said it was opposed to Prime Minister Wickremanayake's call for an all-out military campaign against Tamil Tiger separatists.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

Key stories:

Profiles:

BBC WORLD SERVICE
See also:

09 Oct 00 | South Asia
Q&A: Sri Lanka's election
13 Oct 00 | South Asia
New government for Sri Lanka
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories