Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka’s tough new president

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was in power when the long-running civil war came to an endSymbol copyright
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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was once in energy when the long-running civil struggle got here to an finish

Sri Lanka’s new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is a person who divides opinion.

At the one hand, he’s hailed by way of supporters for taking part in a a very powerful position in crushing the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels and bringing to an finish Sri Lanka’s long-running civil struggle in 2009, when he was once the defence secretary.

However he’s additionally accused of committing human rights violations within the crackdown. He denies any wrongdoing.

Inevitably his go back to energy after Saturday’s election has additionally brought about ructions. Some analysts concern it’s going to escalate ethnic tensions, whilst others hope his guarantees on safety will undergo fruit as Sri Lanka seems to be for calm because it recovers from the Easter Sunday bombings by way of Islamic State militants this 12 months, which killed greater than 250 other people.

However there also are others who surprise if it is actually Mr Rajapaksa who will steer this island country for the following 5 years.

A part of a formidable circle of relatives

Mr Rajapaksa is a part of considered one of Sri Lanka’s maximum tough households: his father was once an MP and cupboard minister, whilst his elder brother Mahinda was once Sri Lanka’s president two times, and some other two brothers have held high-ranking positions in earlier administrations.

The 5th of 9 kids, he was once born in 1949, and belongs to Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese group.

He joined the military in 1971, coaching on the Sri Lanka Army Academy (SLMA).

For the following 20 years, he labored his manner up the ranks, receiving a lot of awards for gallantry, ahead of leaving to paintings in IT.

Then, in 1998, Mr Rajapaska and his circle of relatives moved to the United States – returning in 2005, the 12 months his brother Mahinda turned into president.

Beneath his brother’s presidency, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was once appointed the defence secretary in 2005 and once more in 2010 – a job which might see him play a key phase in Sri Lanka’s historical past.

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Elder brother and previous president Mahinda (left) was once a large a part of Gotabhaya’s election campaigning

The brothers oversaw the army operation which ended the Tamil separatist warfare in 2009. It had lasted greater than 25 years and is estimated to have claimed some 100,000 lives.

The top of the struggle was once a second to have a good time for many Sri Lankans, however questions stay to at the present time.

All the way through its ultimate levels, 1000’s of other people disappeared – many are stated to were tortured or killed. The enforced disappearances persisted into the years after the struggle ended, when businessmen, reporters and activists noticed as warring parties of the Rajapaksas have been rounded up and not noticed once more.

The Rajapaksa executive denied any position within the disappearances. Mr Rajapaksa, then again, has been immediately accused of violating human rights.

However it’s also his perceived difficult stance on safety a decade in the past which will have given him a spice up within the polls in 2019.

“We make sure that there may not be room for extremist terrorism on this nation once more, simply as we ended the terrorism ahead of,” he stated at the marketing campaign path, including he was once the “best” one “able to making sure 100% safety within the nation”.


Alleged struggle crimes don’t seem to be the one time Mr Rajapaksa has made the headlines for the improper causes.

Forward of the 2019 election, questions have been raised by way of political warring parties over his eligibility however he has many times maintained that he has given up his US citizenship.

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Media captionHow the military after all overwhelmed Tamil Tiger rebels after 25 years of bloody struggle

In August 2016, he was once charged with corruption involving the unlawful switch of state-owned guns. He denied any wrongdoing.

After which there’s the query of who’s actually in fee: analysts really feel {that a} Gotabaya presidency is prone to grow to be a Rajapaksa circle of relatives affair, and can deliver Mahinda – who may just no longer contest the 2019 election because of Sri Lanka’s presidential time period limits – again into the limelight.

The indicators no doubt gave the look to be there. Even if Gotabaya was once the candidate, Sri Lanka watchers famous that Mahinda featured prominently all through his brother’s election campaigning – together with in exposure subject material – or even replied questions at press meetings.

Fears for the longer term

However in the back of the celebrations, many are apprehensive about what Gotabaya Rajapaska’s election will imply for Sri Lanka.

“The Rajapaksas have already used the Islamist bombings [on Easter Sunday] to fan the flame of Sinhalese nationalism…. The chance of an alleged struggle felony nonetheless wedded to extrajudicial strategies turning into president rightly terrifies minority teams, the media and civil-liberties advocates,” author and analyst Brahma Chellaney stated.

Others have warned “the Rajapaksa political playbook is in keeping with mining ethnic fault traces“.

Creator Ana Pararajasingham, writing in The Diplomat, warned {that a} victory for Rajapaksa was once “sure to have penalties for democracy in Sri Lanka”.

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1000’s of other people disappeared in Sri Lanka all through the civil struggle

Some media shops additionally sounded the alarm bell.

State-owned Sunday Observer newspaper revealed a front-page editorial on 10 November titled “We concern Gotabaya”, highlighting grave doable penalties to media freedom if he was once elected.

“The Rajapaksa status for election this time, was once the defence secretary below whose watch reporters have been killed and kidnapped and electorate exercising their democratic proper to protest have been shot to demise… To Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s die-hard fans, none of this issues. His alleged violent rule, is what makes him their champion,” it wrote.

Reporting by way of Upasana Bhat with enter from Maryam Azwer

BBC Tracking experiences and analyses information from TV, radio, internet and print media all over the world. You’ll practice BBC Tracking on Twitter and Fb.

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