Many Sri Lankans want a strongman leader, and that favors Gotabaya Rajapaksa

COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lankans, angered by the federal government’s lack of ability to stop the Easter Sunday terror assaults that killed greater than 250 folks, want a strongman again in energy who can assure their security and convey again financial development.

FILE PHOTO: Sri Lanka’s former protection secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa greets his supporters after his return from the United States, in Katunayake, Sri Lanka April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte/File Photo

Many are rooting for Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who regardless of preventing allegations of warfare crimes, is predicted to be introduced because the presidential candidate of the opposition nationalist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) get together, as early as Sunday.

The Rajapaksa brothers, Gotabaya and Mahinda, have been credited with bringing peace to Sri Lanka in 2009 by defeating the Tamil Tigers in a brutal finish to the 26-year-long civil warfare between the Sinhalese Buddhist majority and minority Tamil teams. Gotabaya was the protection secretary on the time and Mahinda the nation’s president.

“The people have requested a leader who can ensure their security,” Basil Rajapaksa, founding father of the SLPP and youngest brother of Gotabaya and Mahinda instructed reporters on Thursday.

Gotabaya is going through lawsuits within the United States for instigating and authorizing the extrajudicial killing of a journalist and of warfare crimes in opposition to the Tamils throughout his time as protection secretary.

He has denied the allegations and stated the lawsuits, introduced by torture survivors and the daughter of the slain journalist, have been timed to thwart his attainable presidential run. A ultimate date for the presidential elections has not been determined however have to be held earlier than Dec 9.


Sri Lanka’s structure is modeled on the French system of presidency the place the president has govt powers whereas the prime minister heads the parliament.

The present authorities is headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, the chief of center-left Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) whereas Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is from the center-right United National Party (UNP), which has a majority within the parliament.

Sirisena and Wickremesinghe, who’ve been at loggerheads since final October, have blamed each other for ignoring warnings from India and failing to cease the assaults.

Calls for a nationalist chief like Gotabaya, who has sturdy help from inside Sri Lanka’s majority Sinhalese Buddhist group, echo related decisions made by voters in different Asian nations together with India and Bangladesh.

In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was elected for a second time period in May in a landslide victory, rallied his Hindu nationalist base and turned the marketing campaign into a battle for nationwide safety and an aggressive stance in opposition to Pakistan.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who gained a third straight time period in an election final December, has been criticized for suppressing dissent and jailing critics.


Reuters spoke to about 60 folks, a lot of whom have been victims of the fear assaults or affected by communal violence over the previous 12 months, and whereas some plan to abstain from voting, a lot of those that will vote say they want a extra authoritarian determine.

Many Sri Lankan Catholics won’t vote for Sirisena if he stands, stated a senior Sri Lankan priest.

He is taking a look at Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s warfare on medication for instance of the form of conduct that is required regardless of proof that it concerned extrajudicial killings by police.

“A third world country like us needs a tough leader like Duterte – he is doing whatever is needed to rid his country of evils,” stated the priest who didn’t needed to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic.

“Gotabaya is accused of crimes but he is tough and that is what we need right now to bring back some order,” he stated.

Father Jude Chrysantha Fernando, director for social communication on the Archdiocese of Colombo, stated the church didn’t take political sides and wouldn’t ask folks to vote for one candidate over one other.

“What the cardinal said was that the political leaders and some security officials had prior information about attacks, but they have not taken any action,” he stated. “That’s why the cardinal expressed his displeasure. But he did not take any political side. What he is asking is justice for the victims.”


A rustic of 21 million, Sri Lanka has been a tinder field of sectarian and ethnic tensions, first between the bulk Sinhalese Buddhist inhabitants and Tamil teams, and lately between the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Muslim minority.

While most Tamils are unlikely to vote for Gotabaya, the Muslim group could also be divided.

S.H.M. Thameem, a authorities worker who’s a Muslim, stated he’ll vote for Gotabaya as a result of the present authorities has did not ship.

“When there were anti-Muslim riots when he was the defense secretary, they were controlled within a day or two but Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have failed to control it. That adversely impacted the Muslim businesses and overall economy,” stated Thameem who lives within the north-central district of Anuradhapura.

J.M. Faleel, a Muslim autorickshaw driver in Colombo feels in a different way.

“We need a dictator, but I will not vote for Gotabaya as he is partially responsible for most of the suffering we see today,” stated Faleel, referring to anti-Muslim riots and alleged abuses in opposition to the Tamils.

Keheliya Rambukwella, a spokesman for SLPP, stated Gotabaya was in a foreign country when the worst violence in opposition to Muslims came about.

Slideshow (2 Images)

“But still he was able to prevent it within a day. This government could not control the spreading of anti-Muslim riots for a week last,” he instructed Reuters.

The lawsuit allegations within the United States might not damage Gotabaya’s probabilities of successful as a result of he has the overwhelming help of the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, stated Kusal Perera, a political columnist in Sri Lanka.

“This election will be decided by the large majority of Sinhalese Buddhists who believe they need a hardline president to put things right. The Tamils and Muslims will be left out in deciding the president,” stated Perera.

Writing by Aditi Shah. Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal. Editing by Martin Howell and Lincoln Feast.

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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