||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (July 2015)|
|6th President of Sri Lanka|
19 November 2005 – 9 January 2015
|Prime Minister||Ratnasiri Wickremanayake
D. M. Jayaratne
|Preceded by||Chandrika Kumaratunga|
|Succeeded by||Maithripala Sirisena|
|Prime Minister of Sri Lanka|
6 April 2004 – 19 November 2005
|Preceded by||Ranil Wickremasinghe|
|Succeeded by||Ratnasiri Wickremanayake|
|Leader of the Opposition|
6 February 2002 – 2 April 2004
|Prime Minister||Ranil Wickremasinghe|
|Preceded by||Ratnasiri Wickremanayake|
|Succeeded by||Ranil Wickremasinghe|
|Leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party|
18 November 2005 – 15 January 2015
|Preceded by||Chandrika Kumaratunga|
|Succeeded by||Maithripala Sirisena|
|Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources|
|Minister of Labour|
|Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
15 February 1989 – 19 November 2005
|Member of the Sri Lankan Parliament
27 May 1970 – 21 July 1977
|Preceded by||D.P. Atapattu|
|Succeeded by||Ranjit Atapattu|
|11th Chairperson-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations|
15 November 2013 – 9 January 2015
|Preceded by||Tony Abbott|
|Succeeded by||Maithripala Sirisena|
|Born||Percy Mahendra Rajapaksa
18 November 1945
Weerakatiya, Southern Province, British Ceylon
(now Sri Lanka)
|Political party||Sri Lanka Freedom Party|
|United People's Freedom Alliance
(2004 – Present)
(1994 – 2004)
|Alma mater||Richmond College
Nalanda College Colombo
Sri Lanka Law College
Percy Mahendra "Mahinda" Rajapaksa (Sinhalese: පර්සි මහේන්ද්ර "මහින්ද" රාජපක්ෂ, pronounced [maˈhində ˈraːɟəˌpakʂə], Tamil: மகிந்த ராசபக்ச; born 18 November 1945) was the 6th President of Sri Lanka and Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, who served from 19 November 2005 to 9 January 2015. A lawyer by profession, Rajapaksa was first elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1970, and served as Prime Minister from 6 April 2004 until his victory in the 2005 Presidential elections. He was sworn in for his first six-year term as president on 19 November 2005. He was re-elected for a second term during the 2010 elections on 27 January 2010. He was defeated for a third term in the 2015 Presidential Elections by Maithripala Sirisena and left the office on 9 January 2015.
- 1 Early life and career
- 2 Member of Parliament
- 3 Prime minister
- 4 Presidency
- 5 Election defeat
- 6 Corruption investigations
- 7 Domestic policy
- 8 Decorations
- 9 Family and personal life
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
Early life and career
Mahinda Rajapaksa was born in Weeraketiya in the southern rural district of Hambantota. He hails from a well known political family in Sri Lanka. His father, D. A. Rajapaksa, was a prominent politician, independence agitator, Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister of Agriculture and Land in Wijeyananda Dahanayake's government. D.M. Rajapaksa, his uncle, was a State Councillor for Hambantota in the 1930s who started wearing the earthy brown shawl to represent kurakkan (finger millet) cultivated by the people of his area, whose cause he championed throughout his life. It is from his example that Rajapaksa wears his characteristic shawl.
Rajapaksa was taught at Richmond College in Galle, before moving to Nalanda College Colombo and later Thurstan College, Colombo. He also had a few cameo roles as a movie actor in Sinhalese movies and worked as a library assistant at Vidyodaya University.
Following the death of his father in 1967, Rajapaksa took over as the SLFP candidate for Beliatta constituency and was elected to Parliament in 1970 as the youngest Member of Parliament at just 24. Later he studied law at the Sri Lanka Law College and took oaths as an attorney-at-law in November 1977. Throughout his parliamentary career, except for the period from 1994–2001 when he was a minister, he continued his law practice in Tangalle.
Member of Parliament
Losing his parliamentary seat in the landslide defeat of the SLFP in 1977, he was re-elected in 1989 to Parliament to represent Hambantota District under Proportional Representation. He came into prominence as a leader, together with Manorani Saravanamuttu, of the Mothers Front, which organised the mothers of the "disappeared" in the white terror of 1988–90 instigated by a rebel group that called themselves Deshapremi Jathika Vyaparaya or 'Patriotic National Movement'.
Appointment as cabinet minister
In 1994, following the election victory of the People's Alliance a political front led by Sri Lanka Freedom Party and headed by Chandrika Kumaratunga, Rajapaksa was appointed Minister of Labour. He held this post until 1997 when, following a cabinet reshuffle, his portfolio was changed to Minister of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
Leader of the Opposition
When the United National Party (UNP) defeated the People's Alliance in the 2001 elections, Rajapaksa lost his position in the Government. He was however appointed as Leader of the Opposition in March 2002.
After the Parliamentary Elections of 2004, in which the United People's Freedom Alliance gained a slim majority in Parliament. Rajapaksa was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 13th Prime Minister on 6 April 2004. While Rajapaksa was the Prime Minister, he also held the Ministry of Highways.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was chosen by Sri Lanka Freedom Party to contest with former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party in this Presidential Election held on 17 November 2005. Despite the huge election campaign led by UNP, Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to gain a narrow victory by 190,000 votes. The Opposition claimed that LTTE calling for a boycott of the polls in the North and East from Tamil voters in areas within their control lead to their defeat. Most voters in these areas were forcibly restrained from voting, and it is said that they would have favored Ranil Wickremasinghe and his UNP party in the said election. Rajapaksa received 50.3% of the vote.
After becoming President of Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa reshuffled the cabinet and took the portfolios of Defence and Finance in the new cabinet, which was sworn on 23 November 2005.
Infrastrcuture Development Projects
His presidency after ending the Civil war in 2009 is known for large scale infrastrcuture projects and mostly being Chinese funded such as the Colombo Port City,Colombo Lotus Tower  as well as the Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port and Lotus Pond Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre and many Roads, Highways and expressways. However the roadways are known for extremely high costs and is suspected of corruption. Under him Sri Lanka started to experienced a rapid economic growth and the GDP growth rate reached over 7%
Media groups have alleged that media freedom has been curtailed in Sri Lanka during Rajapaksa's term as President. In 2008 Reporters Without Borders ranked Sri Lanka 165th among 173 countries in its annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. The next year, the country was ranked 162. By 2010, following the end of the war, the RSF ranking was 158th. However, these ranking have been questioned by independent Sri Lanka newspapers.
RSF’s 2010 Press Freedom Index has Sri Lanka at number 158, nearly tied with Saudi Arabia. This makes the rankings somewhat suspect. In Saudi Arabia, all newspapers are owned by the royal family or their associates. All TV and radio stations are government owned. Saudi journalists are forbidden by law to criticise the royal family or religious authorities and writers and bloggers are routinely arrested. Sri Lanka is obviously not this bad. – Indi Samarajiva, The Sunday Leader
Allegations of war crimes
WikiLeaks made public secret US cables (Contents of the United States diplomatic cables leak (Sri Lanka)) from 2009–10, stating that American diplomats including Patricia Butenis believed that Mahinda Rajapaksa was responsible for the massacres of Tamil civilians and captured LTTE fighters at the end of the war with the LTTE. The cable also states the responsibility for many of the alleged crimes rests with the country's senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa, his brothers and General Fonseka.
In April 2011, Ban Ki-moon published a report by a UN-appointed panel of experts, which concluded that as many as 40,000 people were killed in the final weeks of the war between the Tamil Tigers and government forces.
A number of foreign journalists and news teams, such as the UK's Channel Four News, have reported and filmed evidence of targeted shelling of civilians, executions and atrocities. Dead female Tamil fighters appeared to have been raped or sexually assaulted, abused and murdered.
For their part, Rajapaksa and his government have denied all allegations of war crimes. Former Sri Lankan Army chief Sarath Fonseka was later prosecuted for an interview which he gave to Frederica Jansz, editor of the Sunday Leader, in which he is stated to have said that surrendering LTTE fighters were executed on the orders of Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
Relations with Sarath Fonseka
Immediately following his election in 2005, Rajapaksa extended the term of the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Sarath Fonseka, less than 30 days before he was scheduled to retire. Over the next three and a half years Fonseka and Rajapaksa's brother and Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa led the country's armed forces in their battle against the LTTE, ultimately defeating the Tigers and killing their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.
Following the end of the conflict, a rift emerged between Rajapaksa and Fonseka, over reasons which are still disputed. On 15 November 2009, Rajapaksa ordered Fonseka to leave his post as Chief of the Defence Staff with immediate effect through a letter from his secretary. Fonseka then joined opposition as the candidate against Rajapaksa in the 2010 Presidential election, at which Rajapaksa emerged victory. Fonseka was subsequently sentenced to two years in jail for various offenses by a Military court martial. President Rajapaksa signed the order documents for the release of Fonseka in May 2012.
In the Presidential Election of 8 January 2015, Rajapaksa was defeated by his ex-aide Maithripala Sirisena, winning only 47.6% of the vote. Many had accused him of becoming authoritarianism, nepotism, poor governance, and corruption. He has lost the support of most of the minorities due to his alliance with the Buddhist extremist Bodu Bala Sena.
Coup d'état attempt alleged
According to Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Rajapaksa attempted in the last minute of announcement of the election result a Coup d'état to remain in power, but the Army Chief Jagath Jayasuriya disobeyed the orders. According to MPs Rajitha Senaratne and Mangala Samaraweera, before going to the Army Chief, Rajapaksa had earlier informed the Attorney General to prepare the necessary documentation for issuance of the State of Emergency, but the Attorney General refused. Rajapaksa accepted defeat and left the Temple Trees, the official residence of President, and power was peacefully transmitted to Maithripala Sirisena.
The Sirisena government launched a probe into the alleged coup by Rajapaksa. The government argued that Rajapaksa attempted to seize the poll counting centers when Rajapaksa realised that he was losing the election. One of the witnesses, the Attorney General, admitted to Criminal Investigation Department the coup attempt made by Rajapaksa. Fortunately, the Attorney General refused to act on behalf of Rajapaksa and many believe the story of an attempt is accurate after Attorney General orders an investigation into this coup. Former army chief General Sarath Fonseka claims that the Rajapaksa has moved nearly around 2,000 troops into Colombo from Northern Province three days before the election results were announced. The general claimed that the troops were ready take action on coup.
However the cabinet spokesperson of the new government stated, during a press conference held on March 24th, 2015, that there was no evidence to prove that such a coup was attempted during the night of the election. A spokesman for Rajapaksa has denied the allegations as baseless. The army and police have also denied the allegations.
Mahinda Rajapaksa government have been criticized for its corruption. During his leadership Sri Lanka scored extremely low in the Transparency International Corruption Index. A Transparency International-led coalition revealed Rs. 3,000,000,000 had gone missing from a roading project for a 2012 exhibition.
On 16 January 2015, The Sirisena government announced that it would investigate Rajapaksa's deals with China and other countries that alleging included kickbacks and the mega projects deals. Furthermore the government stated that the deals would be suspended until the investigation is completed. Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) announced that they had filed corruption charges against the Rajapaksa brothers at the Bribery and Corruption Commission and demanding that 11 individuals and an institution be investigated for massive corruption.
Meanwhile Mervyn Silva also filed corruption charges his brothers Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Basil Rajapaksa. Silva criticised that former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the white van culture and the death of Lasantha Wickrematunge.
The Sri Lanka Air Force announced that Mahinda Rajapaksa and family used the mililtary aircraft for the Presidential election campaign that cost $17,273.28 (Rs. 2,278,000.00) of public fund to travel across island. Rajapaksa and family received numerous of state resource abuse complaint from organisations and election monitors including on their involvement in fraud, misuse of powers and murder – prior to their fraudulent cases are money laundering that said to have taken $5.31 billion (Rs. 700 billion) out of country illegally through Central Bank using Rajapaksa's close association Ajith Nivard Cabraal the former governor of Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
On 23 January 2015, The Seychelles government announced that would assist Sri Lankan government in search of funds that were allegedly transferred by Rajapaksa regime into Port Victoria offshore bank accounts. Earlier month of February, India announced that it would assist the Sri Lankan government in tracing the billion of dollars funds that were allegedly deposited to oversea bank accounts of Rajapaksa and the association. Instantly the government sought help from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in locating this hidden wealth to expose the alleged corruption of the previous regime.
Anti-Corruption Unit led by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the new Cabinet has appointed a high-powered "rapid response team" to look into corrupt land transactions, stock market price-fixing and the abuse of state funds for political purposes by Rajapaksa family and the close association of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
On 7 May 2015, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera received intelligence reports from four foreign nations that involved in tracing the billions of Dollars stashed aboard, stating that the Rajapaksa family holds $18 Billion (approximate Rs. 237,933,000,000) worth of assets in foreign countries. Minister Samaraweera didn't mention the names of countries that is involved in this investigation. The government asserted that they have only traced the $2 Billion and the government is seeking an access to the bank account that is held by the Rajapaksa family, However Minister Samaraweera stated this will not be easy task to retrieve entire assets held by the Rajapaksa family aboard and are willing to go after these assets that were stashed illegally aboard belonging to the State.
It believed that Rajapaksa has a long history of denying 'allegations' that were levelled against his family members and political associations. He is also widely accused on using his family members for government duties, which later he 'rejected' these claims.
Sri Lankan Civil War
Although styling himself as a man of peace and a willing negotiator, Rajapaksa signaled his intention to end the peace process once in power by forging an alliance with the Sinhalese nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Jathika Hela Urumaya. The JVP had opposed the original 2002 peace process as treasonous.
The agreement made with Rajapaksa included provisions which called for a revision of the ceasefire agreement to give the military broader powers against the LTTE, as well as ruling out of any devolution of power to the Tamil people. Furthermore, the cessation of aid to the Tsunami struck LTTE occupied areas, and the sidelining of the Norwegian facilitators due to their alleged bias were included.
Immediately following his election victory, a series of mine blasts blamed on the LTTE in the country claimed the lives of many off-duty servicemen and civilians, pushing the country back to the brink of war. Following the closure by the LTTE of a reservoir supplying water to 15,000 people named "Mavil Aru" in government controlled areas on 21 July 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched an offensive against the LTTE, bringing the entire reservoir under government control. Further military engagements have led to the LTTE been driven out of the entire Eastern Province of Sri Lanka and loss of 95% of the territory they controlled.
While my mother tongue is Sinhala, let me elaborate a few thoughts in Tamil. Sinhala and Tamil are the two languages of the people of Sri Lanka. Both these have been used through the centuries, are rich in literature, and are widely used in my country, with recognition as Official Languages.
He said in Tamil adding,
With the widening of democracy in our country, the bonds between the Sinhala and Tamil people of Sri Lanka will grow stronger and remain a major force for its future development. We will march towards a richer freedom and lasting unity that await us as a nation.
He was conferred with two Honorary Doctorates. The first one is a Doctor of Law from the University of Colombo on 6 September 2009. The second degree was awarded by the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia on 6 February 2010 for his contribution for world peace and outstanding success in defeating terrorism.
Family and personal life
In 1983 Rajapaksa married Shiranthi Wickremasinghe, a child-psychologist and educator. Shiranthi Rajapaksa is the daughter of E. P. Wickramasinghe, a retired Commodore of the Sri Lanka Navy. The Rajapaksas have three sons, Namal, Yoshitha and Rohitha. In April 2010 Namal Rajapaksa was elected as a Member of Parliament for the Hambantota District, obtaining the highest number of preferential votes in his father's former district. Yoshitha was commissioned as an Acting Sub Lieutenant in the Sri Lanka Navy in March 2009.
A number of members of Rajapaksa's family are currently active in politics. One brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa a former military officer who served in the Sri Lanka Army for 20 years is the current secretary of the Ministry of Defense. Another brother Basil Rajapaksa, was elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka from the Gampaha District obtaining the largest number of votes by any candidate in the April 2010 general election, and was appointed Minister of Economic Development. His eldest brother Chamal Rajapaksa has been a Member of Parliament since 1989, and was elected Speaker of the 14th (current) Parliament of Sri Lanka.
Other family members involved in politics include his nephew, Shashindra Rajapaksa, who was the Chief Minister of the Uva Province. Shameendra Rajapaksa (second son of Chamal Rajapaksa), Director SriLankan Airlines, his cousins Jaliya Wickramasuriya, Sri Lanka's ambassador to the United States, Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka's ambassador to Russia, Prasanna Wickramasuriya, Chairman Airport & Aviation Services Limited Sri Lanka and Rajapaksa's brother-in-law Nishantha Wickramasinghe is the Chairman of SriLankan Airlines.
Rajapaksa is known to be superstitious and wears talismans and consults astrologers in his decision-making.
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- Official sites
- Official Website of Mahinda Rajapaksa Presidential Election Campaign – 2010
- Sri Lankan President's Official Website
- Mahinda Rajapaksa's Web Site
- Sri Lanka Freedom Party's official Website
- News media
- Mahinda Rajapaksa's PICTURE GALLERY
- Interview with The Hindu
- Last Editorial By Lasantha Wickramatunga
- Nalanda Keerthi Sri Award for Prime Minister
- Other links
- The Rajapaksa Ancestry
- "Mahinda 4 Sri Lanka" A website with Mahinda Rajapaksa Biography, Photos, News and Critics
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