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Sri Lanka appoints foreign minister
Updated: 2005-08-23 09:30

Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Monday appointed her younger brother as successor to the country's assassinated foreign minister, a Cabinet official said.

Anura Bandaranaike, 56, will also hold the tourism portfolio in addition to being foreign minister, Power and Energy Minister Susil Premajayantha said.

Bandaranaike replaces Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who was shot to death at his home on Aug. 12.

The government has blamed the killing on Tamil Tiger rebels, who are seeking an independent homeland in the north for minority ethnic Tamils. The rebels have denied any role in Kadirgamar's slaying.

Anura Bandaranaike
Sri Lankan Minister of Tourism and Industrial Development Anura Bandaranaike, center, leaves the Supreme Court in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Monday, Aug. 22, 2005. [AP]
The killing further heightened tensions between the two sides, who have been observing a cease-fire for the past three years.

While the truce has generally held on this island nation of 19 million, including 3.2 million Tamils, peace talks have stalled over rebel demands for greater autonomy in the areas they control in the north and east.

The rebels also want the government to disarm paramilitary groups they claim attack them as they pass through government-controlled territory in accordance with the cease-fire agreement. The government denies supporting the paramilitaries.

Fighting between government troops and the Tamil Tigers erupted in 1983, killing nearly 65,000 people.

Bandaranaike and Kumaratunga are the children of two former Sri Lankan prime ministers — Solomon Dias Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike.

Anura Bandaranaike first entered Parliament in 1977, and has held the positions of the minister of higher education, Parliamentary speaker and opposition leader.

He was appointed minister of tourism and investment promotion when Kumaratunga's party returned to power in 2004.

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