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INDIA’S WORLD : Nov 18, 2019


Gotabaya Rajapaksa , a former Defence Secretary and Intelligence officer accused of committing human rights violations, has won Sri Lanka Presidential elections. His main opponent Sajith Premadasa of ruling United National Party (UNP) conceded defeat.

• Rajapaksa’s win signals the return to power for the controversial family, hailed by many for ending the civil war, but also remembered for brutal acts against minorities and dissidents.

• Rajapaksa won with more than 52% of nearly 16 million possible votes, according to final results released by Sri Lanka’s Election Commission. He defeated Sajith Premadasa by about 10% points.

• Rajapaksa led the Sri Lankan Armed Forces during the end of country’s decade long civil war while his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was president.

• Sri Lankan armed forces defeated the Tamil Tigers ending the violent conflict in 2009.

• It was free and fair election but Rajapaksa got more towards Sinhala majority even in Sinhala community, extremist part of community voted for him.

• Premadasa got substantial votes both from the North 5 districts and East 3 district.

• There are concerns among minority communities and there are International concerns too.

• Election was spot in the backdrop of the Easter bombings and the attacks that killed over 250 people.

International implications:-

- There are concerns in United States because of Human Rights record of the elected president.

-India will accept the democratic verdict and will develop good relations with its neighbour Sri Lanka.

-Rajapaksa have shown a definite trend towards getting closer to China and less close to India which can be seen in Hambantota project and the land which has been given on a 99 year Lease.

• In 2014, Mahinda Rajapaksa came to Delhi where India share their concern about Naval visits by warships of PLA of China and within a week there were two Naval vessel visited Colombo.

• China is a big player in our neighbourhood. China is now so entrenched in Sri Lanka that even governments like that of Sri Sena in Sri Lanka can’t get rid of China’s syndrome.

• Sri Lanka traditionally had very strong ties with Western Nations.

• There are certain geopolitical factors which make it necessary for Sri Lanka not to get close either to India or to China.

• He would need to restore confidence in him among minorities and the 19th amendment was mentioned, which was about reducing the powers of all powerful president.

• The economy is not doing well, inflation is there because of which they need more investment employment.

• Internationally, India supported Sri Lanka in the human rights council.

• Gotabaya have to be a domestic president primarily, tensions of the last government, the fact that Sri Sena and UPFA are not natural alliance, they represent two different world views, they were forced to come together, cohabitation did not work, governance suffered and therefore as a reaction Mahinda Rajapaksa could come back first to the local elections.

• The primary task would be to establish governance with Sri Lanka and to establish confidence so that the government can handle threats.

• China becoming largest investor and largest bilateral donor for Sri Lanka, historically it was Japan.

• Rajapaksa need to establish himself as a leader of all Sri Lankans, they should be his top priority because that would also allow him to engage with wider international community as well as transcent some of the problems like human right issues that are still hanging over him.

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