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Sri Lanka steers towards China as Rajapaksa wins presidential poll

Gotabaya oversaw the military defeat of Tamil separatists under his brother Mahinda 10 years ago

Shihar Aneez & Ranga Sirilal | Reuters  |  Colombo 

Sri Lanka steers towards China as Rajapaksa wins presidential poll

Sri Lanka’s former wartime defence chief Gotabaya was set to become president after his main rival conceded defeat on Sunday in an election that came months after bombings by Islamist militants threw the country into turmoil.

oversaw the military defeat of Tamil separatists under his brother and then president Mahinda 10 years ago. He has promised strong leadership to secure the island of 22 million people, the majority of whom are Sinhalese Buddhists.

Rajapaksa, 70, would be the latest nationalist leader swept to power across the world, tapping into the anger and fears of majority communities.

He and his brothers, who are expected to get key positions, are also seen as closer to China, which has invested billions of dollars building ports, expressways and power stations.

But these projects have also led to high debt levels for

In his first comments, Rajapaksa struck a conciliatory note, suggesting he would be a leader of all Sri Lankans, regardless of their ethnic and religious identities.

"As we usher in a new journey for Sri Lanka, we must remember that all Sri Lankans are part of this journey. Let us rejoice peacefully, with dignity and discipline in the same manner in which we campaigned," Rajapaksa said in a tweet.

Tamil political parties are strongly opposed to Rajapaksa, who has faced allegations of widespread human rights violations of civilians in the final stages of the war against the separatists in 2009.

First Published: Sun, November 17 2019. 21:59 IST
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