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Lankan court to hear petition on Gotabhaya's citizenship ahead of Presidential election

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Press Trust of India Colombo
A Sri Lankan appeals court on Monday decided to hear a petition this week on the citizenship of SLPP's presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to check his eligibility to contest the November 16 Presidential election.
A three-judge bench of the Court of Appeal would hear the petition on October 2 and 3 that alleges Gotabhaya of violating immigration and the election laws by engaging in political activities during the 2005 presidential election while holding a US citizenship.
The petitioners claimed that Gotabhaya is not a Sri Lankan citizen as his citizenship certificate is forged and invalid.
Gotabhaya, the younger brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Presidential candidate, is the main opposition challenger in the election.
He has already paid his deposit to be able to handover his nomination to contest the election. The nominations are to be closed on October 7.
The Court of Appeal has set the hearings for October 2 and 3 when they will consider interim relief sought by the petitioners.
The petitioners claim that since Gotabhaya is no Sri Lankan citizen he could not be a candidate to be president of the country.
However, Gotabhaya has declared that he is no longer a US citizen and by the virtue of that he is not a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and the US.
Gothbhaya reportedly relinquished his US citizenship in April this year.
Romesh de Silva, Gotabhaya's counsel, said that the case was filed with malicious intent and that the allegations contained in it were baseless, the Colombo Gazette reported.
The 19th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution adopted in 2015 has barred non Sri Lankans from contesting elections.
With Mahinda Rajapaksa also disqualified to run a third term, Gotabhaya was seen as the most suitable of the Rajapaksa brothers to contest the election.
Gotabhaya under Mahinda Rajapaksa's presidency was credited for the leadership given to end the 30-year campaign by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to separate the island's north and east provinces to carve out a Tamil homeland.
Therefore he commands popular support from the Sinhala majority community.

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First Published: Sep 30 2019 | 4:35 PM IST

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