Rajapaksa, Gotabaya

Rajapaksa or Rajapakse, Gotabaya, 1949–, Sri Lankan political leader, president of Sri Lanka (2019–). He joined the Sri Lankan army in 1971, fought against Marxist insurrections and against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka's civil war, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1991. He then worked as an information technology professional in Sri Lanka and, from 1998, in the United States. Returning to Sri Lanka in 2005 after his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected president, he became defense minister (and in 2010, urban development minister as well). By 2009 they had overseen the defeat of the Tamil Tigers; both sides were accused of human-rights violations in the conflict. Gotabaya was also accused of involvement in the disappearance of journalists and government opponents after the war. After Maithripala Sirisena was elected president in 2015, Rajapaksa resigned from the cabinet. In 2016 he was charged with misappropriating government funds. He was elected president in 2019 as the candidate of the Sri Lanka People's Freedom Alliance; presidential immunity led to dismissal of the corruption charges. He subsequently appointed his brother Mahinda prime minister, and after his party overwhelmingly won the 2020 elections he secured constitutional changes that enhanced his powers.

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