Sri Lanka - Leadership

Kumaratunga is an experienced politician who comes from a family with a prominent place in Sri Lankan politics. Before her mother, Sirimavo, died in 2000, Chandrika could call on Sirimavo's expertise as a political veteran. In her own political career, Chandrika Kumaratunga has demonstrated many of the qualities necessary for someone in her position. She is renowned among her supporters for her energy and intellect. However, the task she has faced as Sri Lanka's president would test anyone's abilities to the utmost. Kumaratunga was elected and re-elected to office by a populace that expected her to restore peace and prosperity to a violence-torn country, a challenge which has yet to be completed. She has also become a somewhat volatile and very outspoken leader, rather than a conciliator or consensus-builder. This has led to very public tensions within her government, as she has been forced to share power in her second term as president, without holding the prime minister's position. Her relationship with Prime Minister Wickramasinghe, of the United National Party (elected in December 2001) has been acrimonious and even threatening. Kumaratunga's legacy as a social reformer and peacemaker is in danger of being eclipsed by her fierce personalized rivalry with a prime minister from an opposing party.

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