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Don Stephen Senanayake

(1884—1952) prime minister of Ceylon


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(b. 20 Oct. 1884, d. 22 Mar. 1952).

Prime Minister of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1947–52 A devout Buddhist, he worked on his father's rubber plantation before entering politics. He was elected to the Ceylon Legislative Council in 1922 and became Vice-President of the State Council in 1936. In 1931 he was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Land, an office he held until 1947, during which time he encouraged the development of cooperative farms and of hydroelectric schemes. As leader of the United National Party he negotiated full independence from Britain in 1947, and the new Constitution for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), of which he became Prime Minister. He was firmly committed to a multi-ethnic Ceylon, though he was unable to allay the fears of the Tamil minority against discrimination by the Sinhalese. He was killed in a riding accident and was succeeded by his son Dudley Shelton Senanayake, who was Prime Minister 1952–4 and again 1965–70.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).


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