Rajapaksa siblings firmly united; will take Sri Lanka forward: Gotabaya Rajpaksa

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Colombo, Mar 13 (PTI) Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has praised his brothers, saying that all three of them are firmly united and anyone trying to drive a wedge between them will not succeed.

In a comment made by the president at a political gathering on Friday, Gotabaya Rajapaksa praised the maturity of his elder brother Mahinda, the prime minister, and the younger brother Basil, the key presidential adviser.

'Mahinda Rajapaksa is currently one of the greatest leaders not only here but also in Asia. His political experience, maturity and knowledge cannot be matched by anyone,' he said during the programme.

'His mature leadership is a great relief to me in taking the country forward,' he was quoted as saying by an official statement released on Saturday.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa,71, praised Basil as the man who created the Rajapaksa political party, the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP) and the force behind the political environment for them to return to power after the defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015.

In the recent months some of the ruling coalition seniors were mooting the idea that Gotabaya Rajapaksa be allowed to take over the reins of the ruling SLPP from Mahinda Rajapaksa. This move has met with stiff resistance from the senior Rajapaksa loyalists who have demanded disciplinary action against those who sought Mahinda's replacement as the party leader.

The President's comments are a reference to such moves, 'if anyone is trying to create problems between us (among the Rajapaksa brothers) let me tell them that they won't succeed. We are no such family'.

Gotabaya, who is four years younger to Mahinda, 75, regained the full powers of the presidency when he was elected president in November 2019.

He abolished the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that made the prime minister's position more powerful.

He said both Mahinda and Basil, senior to him in politics, had never interfered in matters of governance.

This is not the only time the powerful Rajapaksa brothers have been running the country.

The Rajapaksa family -- including Basil Rajapaksa, 69, has dominated Sri Lankan politics for two decades.

The two brothers -- Rajapaksa and Gotabaya -- led a decisive campaign that helped end the island nation's three decade long civil war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). PTI CORR RUP AKJ RUP