cloudy.png
Wednesday September 18th, 2019 2:21PM

Former Sri Lankan strongman's brother to run for president

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was a livewire in Sri Lanka's military campaign to end a long civil war but faces allegations of human rights violations, was nominated Sunday as the opposition's candidate for the presidential election scheduled for later this year.

Gotabaya, a brother of former strongman President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was a powerful defense bureaucrat under his brother's government, which defeated the Tamil Tiger rebels' 26-year insurgency in 2009.

Rajapaksa announced his brother's candidacy to cheering supporters at a rally in Colombo, the South Asian island nation's capital. Earlier at the rally, Rajapaksa was named leader of the Sri Lanka People's Front, under which Gotabaya will contest.

"I thought of a man who is sought by the country's history to build a future," Rajapaksa told the gathering. "Whether I chose or not, he has become your brother, whether I chose him or not, he has already won your hearts."

"I hand over my brother as a brother to you. He is no other, he is Gotabaya," Rajapaksa said.

Gotabaya is a hero to many majority Sinhalese, who see him as a prospective strong leader, but is feared by minorities and victims of human rights abuses.

As secretary of defense ministry under his brother's rule, Gotabaya played a key role in ending the Tamil Tigers' campaign for an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils. But he was accused of using extralegal methods and cracking down on those who criticized his style.

Gotabaya was accused of running abduction squads known as "white van" squads that whisked away rebel suspects and journalists deemed to be overly critical. Some of the abductees were released after torture, while others were never seen again.

Gotabaya was also implicated in the killing of rebels and civilians who tried to surrender with white flags under a pre-arranged deal in the final days of the civil war. Ethnic Tamils say they handed over their children for investigations at the request of the military but did not see them again.

According to a U.N report, some 45,000 Tamil civilians were killed in the last months of the war alone.

After the war's end, Gotabaya also took up the extra role of city development in which he used the military to evict people from their homes for land acquisition.

In his speech on Sunday, Gotabaya said he has always strived to fulfill his duties to his best and in doing so he has never been confined to laid-out norms. He will follow the same philosophy even as president, he said.

"In fulfilling my duties for the country I have never allowed room for any foreign forces to interfere," he said. "Even in the future I will never allow anyone to lay hands on the country's sovereignty."

In his years at the defense ministry, Gotabaya was known to be a straight speaker on foreign relations.

Gotabaya, a U.S. citizen, and has said he has started the process to renounce his American citizenship because Sri Lankan law doesn't allow duel citizens to hold political office.

However, he has two court cases pending in Los Angeles filed by torture victims and a daughter of a top journalist killed in 2009. Gotabaya has denied the allegations, which his spokesman Milinda Rajapaksha says are politically motivated.

It is unclear if those cases will affect his candidacy. Hours before the rally on Sunday, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells met Rajapaksa at his residence. It was not immediately known whether Gotabaya's presidential candidacy was discussed.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Former Sri Lankan strongman's brother to run for president
Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was a livewire in Sri Lanka's military campaign to end a long civil war but faces allegations of human rights violations, has been nominated as the opposition's candidate for this year's presidential election
8:31AM ( 11 minutes ago )
Cosby appeal tests other accusers' testimony in #MeToo era
A Pennsylvania appeals court will hear arguments as imprisoned actor Bill Cosby appeals his sexual assault conviction
8:21AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Muslims clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site
Clashes erupted between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police at a major Jerusalem holy site
8:19AM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Guatemalans to vote in close presidential runoff
Guatemalans go the polls Sunday in the second-round presidential runoff, pitting ex-first lady Sandra Torres against conservative Alejandro Giammattei in a nation beset by poverty, unemployment and emigration
12:05AM ( 8 hours ago )
Biden is still the Democrat to beat, but rivals see weakness
Three months after announcing his White House bid, Joe Biden remains atop early polling
8:22PM ( 12 hours ago )
Trump-McConnell 2020? Senate leader takes on role of wingman
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who's running for reelection, is tying himself as tightly as he can to President Donald Trump
8:18PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
The Latest: Sanders says Dems must speak to working families
Bernie Sanders says Democrats have an argument that "speaks to the pain and reality of the working families of this country."
9:21PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Buttigieg says Trump coddling white nationalism
Pete Buttigieg says President Donald Trump is "coddling white nationalism," and the South Bend, Indiana, mayor is calling on Iowa voters to help him "change the channel."
8:34PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: Iowa gets its 1st look at billionaire Steyer
Environmental activist and new presidential candidate Tom Steyer is launching his first pitch to Iowa voters by embracing his status as a billionaire
8:02PM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
N. Korea says Kim supervised weapons tests, criticizes Seoul
North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has supervised test-firings of an unspecified new weapons system, seen as an attempt to build leverage ahead of negotiations with the United States
7:08AM ( 1 hour ago )
Zimbabwe's children suffer from country's economic crisis
With power cuts lasting 19 hours per day, debilitating water shortages, inflation at 175% and many basic items in scarce supply, Zimbabwe's children are the silent victims of the once-prosperous southern African country's debilitating economic downfall
5:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
More protests underway in Hong Kong with no end in sight
Protesters have begun gathering at a park in central Hong Kong for another day of demonstrations that have generally started peacefully but often ended in violent clashes with police
5:52AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP World News
Cosby appeal tests other accusers' testimony in #MeToo era
A Pennsylvania appeals court will hear arguments as imprisoned actor Bill Cosby appeals his sexual assault conviction
8:21AM ( 21 minutes ago )
Muslims clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site
Clashes erupted between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police at a major Jerusalem holy site
8:19AM ( 22 minutes ago )
India eases restrictions in Kashmir for Islamic festival
Authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir say they eased restrictions in the region's main city for a third straight day ahead of a major Islamic festival
8:14AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Tear gas fired in Hong Kong with no end in sight to protests
Police have fired tear gas in confrontations with protesters in three parts of Hong Kong, as another evening of clashes began playing out in the Asian financial capital
7:47AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Democratic hopefuls take aim at insurer and pharma profits
AP estimate finds $97B in pharma and insurer profits as Democratic hopefuls take aim at 'obscene' gains
7:40AM ( 1 hour ago )