COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who spearheaded the brutal crushing of Tamil Tigers a decade ago, stormed to power on Sunday but promised to be a president for all Sri Lanka’s races and religions after a divisive election, reports AFP.
Seven months after Islamist extremist attacks that killed 269 people, Rajapaksa was elected onSaturday on the back of a nationalist campaign promising security and to crush religious extremism in the Buddhist-majority country.
However, Rajapaksa’s triumph will alarm Sri Lanka’s Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the international community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On Sunday Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 70, thanked all voters in an election that heightened ethnic and religious tensions in a country that only a decade ago emerged from a brutal civil war that cost 100,000 lives.
“I am conscious that I am also the president of those who used the vote against me,” he said as he was formally declared the hands-down winner with 52.25 percent of the vote. “It is my duty to serve all Sri Lankans without race or religious discrimination,” he said. “I promise to discharge my duties in a fair manner.”
Election results showed minority Tamil and Muslim communities voting overwhelmingly for the ruling party candidate Sajith Premadasa who came a distant second with 41.99 percent.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, with Gotabaya—nicknamed “Terminator” by his own family—effectively running the security forces, ended a 37-year civil war with Tamil separatists.