Monday, March 17, 2008

Anura Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka's famous political dynasty dies at 59

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Anura Bandaranaike, a former Sri Lankan foreign minister and member of the country's famous Bandaranaike political dynasty, died Sunday after an illness, a government spokesman said. He was 59.

Both his parents and his sister led Sri Lanka, but Bandaranaike's own political ambitions were frustrated by political battles within his family.

Bandaranaike was first elected to parliament in 1977 and served as minister of higher education, speaker of parliament and opposition leader, but he was never able to rise to the highest office in this Indian Ocean island nation.

He died Sunday, said government spokesman Anusha Pelpita.

Bandaranaike was appointed foreign minister after his predecessor Lakshman Kadirgamar was assassinated in 2005. He lost the post in a Cabinet reshuffle a few months later, however.

Just a few months before his death, Bandaranaike quit the Cabinet and joined the opposition over differences with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Bandaranaike's father, Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, founded the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and served as prime minister from 1956 until his assassination three years later. His mother took office soon after her husband's killing and ruled for a total of 12 years.

His mother chose his sister, Chandrika Kumaratunga, as her political heir instead of him and she ruled the country from 1994 to 2005.

Sunethra, the eldest Bandaranaike sibling, did not take part in politics.

Bandaranaike was born on Feb. 15, 1949.