Sri Lanka’s ex-defence chief launches election bid
Posted on May 15th, 2018

Courtesy NewsIn.Asia

Former defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has unofficially launched his bid to run for the presidency at the 2019 elections with a ceremony at the Shangri-La hotel in Colombo.

Political sources said Rajapaksa had invited his three politically active brothers as guests of what he called the launch his 2030 vision for Sri Lanka.

In a 25-minute address in Sinhala, the former defence chief spoke of Sri Lanka needing a socialist, market-economy” while protecting the sovereignty and the culture of the island.

He also spoke of economic reforms and warned that a window of opportunity” will not be open for ever. He lamented that Sri Lanka was still dependent on traditional exports and lacked high-value added industrial exports.

Sri Lanka’s ex-defence chief launches election bid

The meeting came in the backdrop of an internal power struggle within the Rajapaksa family where younger brother Basil had hoped to be the presidential candidate in 2019.

Basil established his credentials by leading his newly formed SLPP to victory at the February local elections. In contrast, Gotabhaya was completely out of the election campaign of the SLPP.

Several allies of the SLFP, including Vasudeva Nanayakkara, has asked former president Rajapaksa’s eldest brother Chamal to be a compromise candidate.

It was not immediately clear if the charismatic former president would support Chamal over Gotabhaya or Basil, but insiders say he was also keen on making a return to power.

Mahinda Rajapaksa was banking on the national unity government changing the constitution and reverting the country to a Westminster-style parliamentary democracy so that he could return as an executive prime minister.

Gotabhaya has a legal hurdle if he wants to enter public life. Under the 19th amendment, no dual-citizen of Sri Lanka can contest elections. However, he could renounce his US citizenship to enter local politics. (Economynext)

9 Responses to “Sri Lanka’s ex-defence chief launches election bid”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Renouncing US citizenship takes time. Gotabaya must have initiated the process by now. It typically takes 15 months for a third world country where there is a high demand for US citizenship and lower staff at the Embassy. Otherwise he will be unable to present himself for the presidential election. Knowing the steady drop of popularity, Sirisena may go for early elections than due (like all presidents) which will put Gotabaya and Basil in a bind.

    Our external friends including China, Russia and Iran will outright reject a US citizen (including a former US citizen) unless he has renounced his citizenship long enough. We cannot fool other nations.

    On the other hand he should not rush it. If he loses US citizenship too soon, he will lose special priviledges foreign citizens enjoy in Sri Lankan justice system. It is a delicate balancing act.

    Gotabaya will not receive any minority support. Mahinda won 15% of minority support in 2015 which reduced to below 5% in 2018. Gotabaya will not get anything more than 10% at most. He must win at least 63% of Sinhala votes. For that he must not entertain more devolution of power, more appeasements to the north and east and appeasement of CWC, SLMC and ACMC. That will be disastrous.

    Preferably he must promise to abrogate 13A and win JVP support for his bid. If these forces are not harnessed, they can divide the Sinhala Buddhist vote.

    Nationalists must not take Gotabaya or anyone else for granted as the nation comes first, not politicians. If no candidate takes up nationalist issues, they must field their own candidate with the promise of abrogating 13A, ETCA if signed, LLRC fraud and other matters of value for the Sinhala community.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    There is a dearth of leadership material that is acceptable and visible in the political spectrum. It is obviously too soon to bring altogether new ones at this late stage. Gotabahya is the only one who has sufficient voter appeal at present after Mahinda. As time is of the essence the United Oppsition should take heed. Basil may be a good organizer but that is not the same as someone who has performed and shown results. With Mahinda it would be politics as usual and Sri Lanka has no time to loose delving into more of the same all over again doing bogus democracy games.

    Sri Lanka should go for ‘broke’ this time and campaign hard, I mean really hard appealing to patriots in the UNP, Tamils and Muslims and other, to back Gotabhaya so that he can steer the ship of Lanka out from 70 years of languishing in minority politics and disastrous handling of the economy. It is not a secret that a majority regardless of differences in Sri Lanka understand the situation in our nation is in! He must address the in particular the Tamils to break out of the high caste dominated terror politics of the north and Muslims to break out of religious extremism based politics and join the national stream. Openly racist and religious political parties must be out of politics for Sri Lanka to prosper. All political parties whose interest is to disrupt the unity of Sri Lanka should be shunned by the whole populace. We Sri Lankans have suffered enough from these petit politicians who are only interested in keeping their own personal welfare and death and destruction for others.

    Sinhalese, both Buddhist and Christians should put country before differences and perhaps listen to the direction taken by clergy in both sides to work towards a better and practically less corrupt administration for Sri Lanka. Time has come to make ‘old politicians including Sirisena and Ranil history.

    Vasudeva Nanayakkara has deceived the United Opposition enough. He is of no benefit to the United Opposition. The only benefit by his staying in the United Opposition is for himself for he has not decernible voter base. It is time this ‘talk big’ political nobody is sidelined and told to keep his big mouth shut for the good of the nation. His brand of leftist politics is

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Dilrook,

    Gotabhaya MUST NEVER TIE UP with the JVP.

    The JVP has ALWAYS BEEN a COMPLETELY POWER HUNGRY Party willing to TIE UP with Sri Lanka’s ENEMIES as EXEMPLIFIED by their CURRENT ALLIANCE with the UNP and the TNA. They talk a lot, but are down right TRAITORS!
    The article below, in whch they VOCIFEROUSLY CRITICIZE the Yamapalana Govt is AN EXAMPLE of their HYPOCRISY & DUPLICITY.

    Yes, GETTING RID OF Dual Citizenship is a HURDLE GOTA must surmount BEFORE he can be TAKEN SERIOUSLY as a Presidential Candidate.

    If not GOTA, I support Sarath Weerasekara or Wimal Weerawansa for President.

    I know that YOU ADVOCATE getting RID OF the Executive Presidency, but I AM FIRMLY CONVINCED that such a move would DESTROY Sri Lanka.

    Many Powerful but Threatened Nations the world over adopt the Presidential Form of Government for the STABILITY and its advantages in DEFENDINg the Nation. While Sri Lanka is not a powerful nation, it certainly is HEAVILY THREATNED by internal and external enemies and REQUIRES the Presidential Form of Govt withpout which the EELAM WAR would NEVER HAVE BEEN WON. Instead of weakening the Executive Presidency WE MUST STRENGTHEN IT FURTHER!

    ……………………………………
    JVP comes out blazing against govt
    May 15, 2018, 12:00 pm

    By Saman Indrajith

    The JVP yesterday called on people to take to the streets against the exploitation by the government of the masses to cover the cost of its extravagance and frauds.

    Addressing the media at the party headquarters in Pelawatte, JVP Propaganda Secretary MP Vijitha Herath said: “The government has increased prices of fuel and now prices of all commodities will increase. It increased the prices of milk powder by Rs. 50. After slapping taxes the government says it will spend tax money on free health care and education.

    “That is a lie. The cost of education today is borne by parents. People have been compelled to seek treatment in private hospitals. The government pays Rs 25.2 million for the Agriculture Ministry building. Treasury bond scam cost more than Rs 11,500 million to government coffers. The government increases taxes to cover those losses.

    The Petroleum Corporation suffered a loss of Rs 14200 million recently. The government is passing supplementary estimates for ministers’ houses, luxury cars. They passed such an estimate of Rs 1500 million only for vehicles. In addition they take Rs 10-15 million to renovate their houses. On the two bullet proof cars of the Prime Minister, the Government spent Rs 600 million. How did they find money for them? It is through taxes.

    This is a bankrupt government. Corruption, waste and fraud have increased under the incumbent government. Value of the rupee was at 131 to the dollar when it came to power and now it is Rs 160. The rupee has depreciated by 20 percent.

    Central Committee Member Wasantha Samarasinghe said the government suffered a loss of USD 86 million for a loan it had obtained at 6 percent interest. The government could have obtained the same loan at 1.5 percent interest. But since it had no sound thinking, it went for the option with 6 percent interest.

    JVP Politburo member K. D. Lalkantha said that his party would organize a series of demonstrations exhorting the government to withdraw its taxes, including the recent oil price increase. “The first protest march and the rally would be held in Colombo on May 22. We extend an open invitation to the general public not to consider this as an agitation by a single party and to join hand with us to express their solidarity with us in our struggle against rising cost of living and government inaction to provide relief to masses. We will not be able to get the government attention without putting up a massive struggle. When this government was formed there was a campaign which said Ranil Wickremesinghe was the top economist and he would win the economic battle. Today it is proven otherwise. He is a failure. Then there was another campaign that Ranil was clean of corruption and fraud. The same Ranil robbed the Central Bank. Today people are compelled to pay for the follies, frauds and corruption of the government.

  4. SA Kumar Says:

    Sri Lanka’s ex-defence chief launches election bid- You all Sinhalese want GR to hand over to UN ??? no good move .
    Do not blame us later We-Tamils did not warn you all ???

  5. Christie Says:

    I know for a fact Indian interests hate Gota for wiping out the Indian terrorists the LTTE.

    India is after Gota though they have so far failed to get him.

    If we Sinhalese Buddhists, Muslims and Christians unite and stand up to India and Indians in our country we all will be prosperous other wise it will be the Indians who will as it has been the case since their arrival on our land on the back of the British.

  6. charithsls Says:

    Gota looks the best candidate out of Rajapaksha clan. He cannot rely upon the minority votes except upcountry Tamils with some understanding with those leaders. He should aim as many Sinhala votes as possible by getting all those minor parties on board, Ven Elle Gunawansa,Ven Ratna, Sinhala org by GA etc as well as the Christian votes. Forget what they have done in the past if the JVP can be roped in to support him. Every politician/ party is power hungry so the JVP is not different. They bring good canvassing & troops mobility.Support the forces in the UNP to make Ranil the candidate. However if our own Sinhalese who support the UNP get sick of them, that will be the real deal. With mass strikes & confrontations on the rise ,the news are good & shinning for Gota.

  7. aloy Says:

    I believe Sarath Weerasekera stands the best chance to be the next president. He should be able able to maintain unity of Sinhalas and also get the Up country Tamil votes. Gota can take time to sort out his US nationality issue and later become the PM. That way he can be assured of safety. He and SW should campaign together.

  8. Nihal Perera Says:

    Gotabaya, the only proven leader who can save Sri Lanka.

    I hope Sri Lankans, regardless of their political affiliations, realise that they need a strong and patriotic leader like Gotabaya to move the country forward.

  9. Dilrook Says:

    @Ananda

    I agree JVP since Wimal left the outfit is a shame. However, JVP has about 10% of precious Sinhala Buddhist votes (or around 7% of the national vote). These votes are too precious to lose. Gotabaya must get them with or without the formal JVP leadership. It will also relieve Gotabaya from seeking minority votes.

    Upcountry Tamils have also rejected Rajapaksas and they will continue to do so. Statistically, their voting pattern is not different to that of other Tamils.

    I’m also worried about Dayan in Gotabaya’s team. This can defeat Gotabaya (or worse help him win with the promise of more federalism). The quality of votes Gotabaya gets is more valuable than ever. Those votes must be for a true unitary Sri Lanka where its heritage, unque culture, language, religion and values are protected and promoted.

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