Sri Lanka’s Feared Wartime Official Now in Presidential Fray


Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was nominated as the Sri Lankan opposition’s presidential candidate on Sunday, is a national hero to some for his role in ending the island nation’s long civil war. But to his critics and victims of war and families of the disappeared, he’s a feared strongman who is facing charges of condoning torture and rape, among other allegations.

Gotabaya is a younger brother to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and was a powerful official in his brother’s government, which ended the 26-year civil war in 2009 with the Tamil Tiger rebels, who were fighting for an independent state for the country’s ethnic Tamil minority.

A former military officer, Gotabaya was known for his ruthless approach to the counterinsurgency and now faces allegations of using extrajudicial methods and cracking down on those who criticized his style. However, many majority Sinhalese Buddhists see him as a prospective strong leader.

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