Sri Lanka People’s Front candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa, younger brother of former President Mahinda Rajapakse, is all set to take over the Sri Lankan presidency. A retired Lieutenant Colonel, who presided over the country’s defence ministry for a decade during his brother’s tenure (2005-2014), Gotabaya swept the polls in the Sinhala majority districts while his main opponent Ranasinghe Premadasa garnered most of the votes from the Tamil-dominated North and East of the country.
Gotabaya’s victory would mean the return of the powerful Rajapaksa family, as he is expected to appoint his brother Mahinda as Prime Minister. The new Sri Lankan president, known as ‘terminator’ for his role in the wiping out of the LTTE a decade ago, has faced lawsuits in Sri Lanka and in the United States over allegations of staged killings of Tamil separatists, critics and journalists during the war.
In a fascinating interview with this journalist in 2014, Gotabaya revealed many things including how they finished off the LTTE. Giving a graphic description of what happened in the last days of the LTTE War 1V, he pointed out that the biggest advantage he had was that his brother had full trust in him and the then Army chief Sarat Fonseka. Mahinda had a political will to finish the LTTE off. Secondly, the leadership agreed with the defence assessment that a large- scale expansion was needed within a very short period. “We briefed the President. It was not an easy thing. You need to recruit people, train them and also equip them but we did it,” he said.