Gotabaya Rajapaksa names brother Mahinda as Sri Lanka PM

WION Web Team Colombo, Sri Lanka Nov 20, 2019, 06.22 PM(IST)

File photo: Mahinda Rajapaksa. Photograph:( Reuters )

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Sri Lanka's new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will swear in his elder brother and former president Mahinda, Government spokesman said. 

Sri Lanka's new president named his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa for the post of prime ministership, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Sri Lanka's new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will swear in his elder brother and former president Mahinda, Government spokesman Vijayananda Herath said, reports AFP. Herath added that Mahinda will take charge as PM soon after Ranil Wickremesinghe's resignation on Thursday morning. 

"Mahinda Rajapaksa will be sworn in at 1.00 pm (0730 GMT) and assume office at 3.00 pm," Keheliya Rambukwella, the spokesman for Mahinda-led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) told Reuters.

Both brothers are credited for ending Sri Lanka's civil war a decade ago by brutally crushing Tamil Tigers. 

Gotabaya, known as the "Terminator" was the defence secretary when his brother Mahinda was the president of Sri Lanka (2005-15). During his tenure as defence secretary, Gotabaya was accused of allowing death squads to kill rivals, journalists and critics. 

During the "dark decade" of the Rajapaksas' in office, at least 14 journalists "were murdered in connection with their work", reports press watchdog Reporters Without Borders

The new president is revered by the Sinhalese majority but a section of Tamil minorities also detest the 70-year-old strongman. As per reports, 40,000 civilians from Tamil community were killed during the end of Tamil war. 

Gotabaya also faces a civil suit in the US where he has been accused of ordering the torture of a Tamil man and others when he was in power. 

The presidential campaign of the Rajapaksas was based on strengthening national security and weeding out corruption. Wickremesinghe's government faced a lot of flak for failing to prevent April Easter bombings in which killed at least 269 people. 

The 70-year-old did not have political experience but his elder brother's charismatic campaigning appealed to the Lankans.

During the term of Rajapaksas, Sri Lanka's proximity to China was increased, in which the island borrowed heavily from the Asian giant for infrastructure projects. Many of the infrastructure projects backed by China have turned into white elephants due to corruption allegations. 

Sri Lanka was also forced to hand over its Hambantota port for 99 years lease to China in 2017 for failing to repay a loan of $1.4 billion, alarming western countries and traditional ally India.