Sri Lanka president appoints brother to parliament

COLOMBO, Sept 19, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapakse Wednesday appointed his younger brother as a member of parliament, officials said, in a move which tightens the family grip on power. Basil Rajapakse, senior adviser to the president, replaced a ruling party legislator who died last week, parliamentary officials said.

Sri Lanka’s parliamentary system allows political parties to nominate MPs without holding by-elections.

The president’s older brother, Chamal, is a senior minister in charge of ports while another brother is the secretary to the ministry of defence.

The appointment comes as the country remains in the grip of a three-decade-long bitter ethnic conflict in which Tamil Tiger guerrillas have been battling for an independent homeland. President Rajapakse, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, came to power in November 2005.