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Sri Lanka’s former minister Mangala Samaraweera passes away

Former Sri Lankan minister Mangala Samaraweera passed away from COVID-19 on Tuesday, following admission into an Intensive Care Unit at a private hospital in Colombo earlier this month.

During his lifetime he held prominent positions in various governments in Sri Lanka, including under Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena.

International tributes

United States

Marking his death, US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alaina Teplitz, stated on Twitter:

The US Ambassador to India Atul Keshap, who was formerly posted to Sri Lanka, similarly released a statement reading:

Samantha Power, the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development and former United States Ambassador to the United Nations also released a statement on Twitter stating she was "grateful to have worked w/ him to strengthen US-Sri Lanka ties" andshe would "miss his wise counsel, tremendous wit, & rare gift for friendship". See her thread below:



The British High Commissioner, Sarah Hulton, responded to Samaraweera’s passing by posting:

The British High Commission in Colombo said:

Former British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka James Dauris posted:



India’s External Affairs Minister, Dr S Jaishankar’s message read:

India’s High Commission in Sri Lanka added:

Former Indian Foreign Secretary and former Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Nirupama Rao tweeted:



Germany’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Holger Seubert, stated on Twitter:



Switzerland's Ambassador Dominik Furgler tweeted:


Sri Lanka

A broad swathe of Sri Lankan politicians from across the South also responded to his death.

Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated on a Facebook post that Samaraweera "made a significant contribution to the Sri Lankans by launching great transformations in the course of Sri Lankan politics".

The Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa stated on Twitter:

Former prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe's statement claimed that Samaraweera "championed reconciliation amongst all our people".

The Rajapaksa's Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP) similarly mourned his "untimely demise" and hailed his "unique legacy".

Sri Lanka's former president Chandrika Kumaratunga called Samaraweera her "comrade-in-arms", adding that "the battle we fought side by side, will live forever". "You hugely progressed our International Relations from the dismal pit it had descended into and took Sri Lanka to the world stage, making us once again a proud and strong Nation," she continued. "Come back in your journey in Samsara, to join the battle for a better and decent Sri Lanka, before you attain Nirvana."

Former Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena tweeted:

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa also stated:

Sri Lanka’s Health Minister, Keheliya Rambukwella similarly stated on Twitter:


Tamil National Alliance

Responding to his death, the Tamil National Alliance party released the following statement:

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan also released a separate statement describing Samaraweera as a "dear friend".


Samaraweera had his start in politics as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party's chief organiser for Matara in 1983 and Assistant Secretary of the SLFP Coordinating Secretary of the Mother’s Front.

As a leading member of the SLFP, Samaraweera was instrumental in the elections and ruling campaigns on Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa, who he served as campaign manager for. He then rose to the post of Rajapaksa’s foreign secretary as the Sri Lankan military began a massive military offensive that killed tens of thousands of Tamils. However, after relations between the two soured, Samaraweera was sacked from his post and subsequently defected to the United National Party (UNP).

He served as Foreign Minister again under the Sirisena administration from 2015-2017 and as Finance Minister from 2017 to 2019.

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