Gotabaya Rajapaksa elected Sri Lankan president: Narendra Modi congratulates ex-defence secretary, says he looks forward to deepening 'fraternal ties'

FP Staff

After former Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa was declared victorious in Sri Lanka's presidential election on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated him and the people of Sri Lanka and expressed a wish to deepen "fraternal ties".

Gotabaya responded, "I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India for your warm wishes. Our two nations are bound by history and common beliefs and I look forward to strengthening our friendship and meeting you in the near future."

Sri Lanka's ruling party presidential candidate, Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa, earlier conceded defeat to Gotabaya, saying he would honor the decision of the people.

Gotabaya, a former defense official revered by Sri Lanka's ethnic majority for his role in ending a bloody civil war but feared by minorities for his brutal approach, is the brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Gotabaya has pledged to restore security to the Indian Ocean island nation still recovering from Islamic State-inspired attacks last Easter.

Gotabaya's victory marks the return of a family ousted from power in 2015 elections amid constant reports of nepotism, skimming off development deals with China and alleged human rights violations during the end of the decades-long war with the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy. and Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesperson Mohammed Faisal also congratulated Gotabaya:

Gotabaya will inherit a tourism-dependent economy still recovering from the blasts, the first attack in Sri Lankan history targeting foreigners.

Maldives' president Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and former president Mohamed Nasheed hailed his resounding election victory and vowed to build a prosperous future.

Mangala Samaraweera, resigning from his position as Sri Lankan finance minister, said on Twitter that he "weeps for his beloved country".



Gotabaya accepted support from Buddhist nationalist clerics who demanded the resignation of Muslim Cabinet members and governors they claimed were interfering with the investigation of the Easter attacks.

Flanked by Buddhist monks at campaign events, Gotabaya focused his message on Sri Lanka's majority Sinhala Buddhist population, who comprise about 70 percent of the island's citizens.

Gotabaya's victory will also be a blow to the post-civil war reconciliation process and truth-seeking on alleged wartime abuses by both government troops and the Tamil Tiger rebels. In the lead up to the election, Gotabaya said that he would not honor a United Nations human rights resolution to investigate alleged abuses.