Sri Lanka’s ‘daughter of destiny’ brings down curtain on dynasty

Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga has relinquished her office, ending 11 turbulent years in power and bringing down the curtain on the Bandaranaike dynasty. Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga has relinquished her office, ending 11 turbulent years in power and bringing down the curtain on the Bandaranaike dynasty. She came to power in 1994 promising to abolish the all-powerful presidency but in the end fought and lost a legal battle to cling to the office for a further year.

During her time in power, the convent-educated Kumaratunga presided over a tortuous peace process with the rebel Tamil Tigers whose three-decade campaign for a homeland has cost more than 60,000 lives.

In addition, during the final year of her rule, she has had to grapple with the political, economic and human consequences of the tsunami last December that killed 31,000 people along Sri Lanka’s palm-fringed coasts.

The daughter of two prime ministers — her mother Sirima Bandaranaike was the world’s first woman prime minister — Kumaratunga grew up living and breathing politics.

She once told an interviewer that running the country was like a “family business”.