Mahinda Rajapakse

Rajapakse or Rajapaksa, Mahinda (mähĭnˈdä räjäpäkˈsə) [key], 1945–, Sri Lankan political leader. A lawyer from a political family, he was first elected to parliament in 1970 as member of the Sri Lanka Freedom party. From 1994 to 2001 he served as minister of labor and of fisheries. Rajapakse became opposition leader in 2002 and prime minister in 2004. In 2005 he was elected president of Sri Lanka, having formed an alliance with Marxist and Buddhist nationalists and advocating a harder line with rebel Tamils. In 2010, after the defeat (2009) of the Tamil rebels, he called an early presidential election and was reelected; he subsequently secured the abolition of presidential term limits. His family has dominated the government, heading the defense and economic development ministries as well as parliamentary speakership. His party's impeachment and removal of the chief justice in 2013 was seen as a further consolidation of power and a sign of increasing authoritarianism.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: South Asian History: Biographies