Gotabaya Rajapaksa, former military officer and former secretary to the Ministry of Defense, took oaths as the 7th Executive president of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on 18th November 2019 after his ground- breaking victory in presidential elections held on 16th. Here is a brief note on his life, career and role in politics.
Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 5th of nine siblings of Rajapaksa family, was born on 20th June 1949. He was born in Palatuwa, Matara and brought up in Weeraketiya, Hambantota. His father, D.A. Rajapaksa was a prominent Politian and an independence agitator in 1940-50s. Following his father’s steps, Mr. Rajapaksa’s brothers, Mahinda, Chamal and Basil who eventually came into politics and became significant. Mahinda Rajapaksa was the 5th executive president in Sri Lanka.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa obtained his primary and secondary education in Ananda College, Colombo. In 1992 he has obtained a post graduate degree from University of Colombo, which makes him the first president in Sri Lanka, who has obtained highest education qualifications.
Rajapaksa joined Ceylon Army in 1971 as a cadet officer. He completed his basic officer training at Army Training center, Diyatalawa. On 25th May 1972, he was appointed to the Ceylon Signals Corps as a second lieutenant. For the next 20years of his service was quite remarkable, officer Rajapaksa was awarded Rana Wickrama and Rana Sura medals for gallantry. He has served in Sinha Regiment and Rifle Regiment also. He later served as the Deputy Commandant of the Sir John Kotalwala Defense Academy until his retirement in 1992. During his military career, he took part in Operation Liberation, which freed Vadamarachchi from LTTE, one of the most important missions.
Post Military Career
Following his retirement, he graduated with his post graduate diploma in IT and joined IT sector as a Marketing Manager. After migration to America in 1998, he has worked as a Systems integrator and Unix Solaris Administrator.
In 2005, after Mahinda Rajapaksa was elected as the president, Gotabaya was appointed as the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense. He was a key operative in successful mission which defeated LTTE. At the public acclaim as a “war hero,” he was conferred Doctor of Letters by the University of Colombo. During the time he was attempted to assassinate by LTTE once.
As the Secretary to Defense ministry, Gotabaya’s manifest was straight towards international. He once claimed that UN infiltrated LTTE from the beginning.
During post war era, he was subjected to controversies about human rights violation, which he has rejected. Accusation of threatening and abduction of journalists and corruption were few other severe cases that were against Gotabaya before.
After few years of silence, he accepted the invitation to contest the Presidential Election 2019 as the candidate of the Podujana Party. During campaign he was targeted for his citizenship issues and US lawsuit by the opposition parties. However, he was elected as the 7th president of Sri Lanka by the general public with a margin of more than 130K votes. With his seemingly positive manifestation about urban development, environment, education, technology and foreign affairs, Sri Lanka is looking forward to a hopeful future.