The Key Figures in Sri Lanka’s Embattled Rajapaksa Clan


Anger at Sri Lanka’s dire financial disaster has been simmering for months, with many laying the blame for widespread shortages and runaway inflation squarely on the toes of the ruling Rajapaksa household.

On Saturday, that anger boiled over, with tons of of hundreds of protesters massing across the residence of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, forcing him to flee beneath army guard simply earlier than the group overran the house and stormed his close by workplace.

While a prime protection supply advised AFP that Rajapaksa “is still the president”, different officers stated his departure raised questions as as to whether he meant to stay in workplace.

With scenes rising of frolicking within the presidential pool, and with Rajapaksa’s actual whereabouts unknown, listed here are profiles of some key members of his highly effective clan:

‘The Terminator’

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 72, took workplace in 2019, wielding govt energy over Sri Lanka all through the Covid pandemic that analysts say helped set off the present financial disaster.

Unlike his charismatic brother Mahinda, who heads the Rajapaksa clan and was prime minister till May, Gotabaya got here to energy with little political expertise.

Instead, he got here from a army background, having been in command of the military and police all through Mahinda’s presidency from 2005 to 2015.

In 2009, he led a brutal authorities crackdown that crushed the separatist Tamil rebels after many years of civil battle.

The bloody ultimate weeks of the battle ended with — in line with UN estimates — the deaths of round 40,000 civilians, who had been herded into so-called no-fire zones that had been then bombed by the armed forces.

He denies accusations that he was behind demise squads that kidnapped and “disappeared” dozens of opponents in feared white vans.

Dubbed “The Terminator” by his family, he’s feared by foes for his brief mood.

The chief

Mahinda Rajapaksa, 76, is the top of the clan. He was president for a decade, and earlier than that, he was prime minister in 2004.

Mahinda was as soon as adored by the Sinhala-Buddhist majority for crushing the Tamil rebels within the army offensive that ended the civil battle.

He refused a world probe into atrocities allegedly dedicated through the battle. A collection of native enquiries have did not yield both a correct battle crimes investigation or prosecutions.

Critics say Mahinda additionally did little to bridge the divide with Sri Lanka’s Tamils ​​after the battle. The neighborhood is barred from commemorating their battle lifeless and stay largely marginalised.

During Mahinda’s presidency, Sri Lanka additionally moved nearer to China, borrowing virtually $7 billion for infrastructure tasks — a lot of which became white elephants mired in corruption.

The centrepiece — and largest flop — was the Hambantota deep-sea port that needed to be leased to China in 2017 for 99 years after Colombo did not sustain with debt repayments for its building.

Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned as prime minister in May and needed to be rescued by the army after hundreds of protesters stormed his residence in Colombo.

‘Mr Ten Percent’

Then there are different family members, together with Basil Rajapaksa, 71, nicknamed “Mr Ten Percent” in a BBC interview in reference to commissions he allegedly took from authorities contracts.

Subsequent administrations did not show any expenses that he syphoned off tens of millions of {dollars} from state coffers. All circumstances in opposition to him had been dropped when Gotabaya grew to become president.

Basil was made finance minister when Gotabaya grew to become president however was jettisoned in mid-April because the president tried to rescue his authorities. He has since resigned from parliament.

Also out of the door was Chamal, 79, one other sibling who was in command of irrigation. His son Sashindra was concerned in a disastrous ban on chemical fertilizer imports.

Mahinda’s eldest son Namal, 36, who ran the sports activities ministry and had been touted as a future chief earlier than the disaster, was additionally dropped.

‘Rajapaksa model’

With solely Gotabaya left in energy, Namal advised AFP in May that the household was merely going via a “bad patch”.

Akhil Berry from the Asia Society Policy Institute stated on the time that even after Mahinda’s resignation “the Rajapaksa brand still has support amongst the Sinhalese population”.

“Though much of the blame can be placed on the Rajapaksas now, their successors will inherit the mess, leaving space for the Rajapaksas to remain politically relevant,” he advised AFP,

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