Outgoing Kumaratunga gets South Asia summit send off — and dubious honour

Sri Lanka’s outgoing president bids farewell to regional politics at a South Asian summit this week but retains the honour of being the longest serving head of a regional body that scored high marks for failure. Sri Lanka’s outgoing president bids farewell to regional politics at a South Asian summit this week but retains the honour of being the longest serving head of a regional body that scored high marks for failure. President Chandrika Kumaratunga, 60, will attend the 13th summit of the seven-member South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Dhaka as her final foreign outing before the November 17 election here.

Asian diplomats believe Kumaratunga will use the occasion to stage her swan song but for those who have worked closely with her, the scion of the Bandaranaike dynasty is not going to fade away that obediently.

“There is no such thing as a swan song for her,” said Jayanath Rajepakse who accompanied Kumaratunga as her international relations advisor to her first SAARC summit in New Delhi in 1995.

“This summit will be an emotional one for her. She will no doubt project it as such.”

Sources close to Kumaratunga had speculated that she may take up an international ro