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Sri Lanka crisis: Mahindra Rajapaksa, the SL PM who resigned on Monday

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Google Oneindia News

Colombo, May 9: Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa resigned on Monday after clinging on to power for weeks, following unprecedented anti-government protests demanding his ouster as well as the administration led by his younger brother and President Gotabaya Rajapaksa over the country's worst economic crisis that led to acute shortages of staple food, fuel and power.

 Sri Lankas Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa

His journey in politics explained in 20 points

  1. Mahinda, a veteran street-fighter politician, entered Parliament when he was just 24, becoming the youngest lawmaker. After losing the seat in 1977, he focused on his law career until reentering Parliament in 1989.
  2. He served as labour minister (1994-2001) and minister of fisheries and aquatic resources (1997-2001) under President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who appointed him as prime minister after the general election of April 2004, when the United People's Freedom Alliance won a majority.
  3. He was chosen as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party's presidential nominee in November 2005. Shortly after his victory in the election, Mahinda announced his intention to crush the LTTE, which had established a de facto government in northern Sri Lanka.
  4. Ending the nearly 30-year-long bloody civil war with the LTTE, where all his predecessors had failed, Mahinda became a hero and used it to return to power with a thumping win in 2010, leading to political analysts labelling him "a man with a midas touch."
  5. During his presidency from 2005 to 2015, Mahinda consolidated his position. The Constitution was changed to allow him to serve a third term, and his three brothers - Gotabaya, Basil and Chamal - were awarded influential positions, leading to accusations that he was running the country like a family firm.
  6. His domestic popularity appeared to wane during 2014 because of rising prices and concerns of corruption and abuse of power, and, in an attempt to secure another presidential term before losing support, he again called for an early presidential poll.
  7. But his political gamble backfired and he was defeated in the elections in 2015. Maithripala Sirisena, formerly a member of Rajapaksa's cabinet, defeated him and was sworn in as president.
  8. During his tenure as president, Mahinda concluded several key infrastructure deals with China, raising concerns in India and the West.
  9. Critics say it was due to Mahinda that the country has fallen into the "Chinese debt trap". The strategic Hambantota port, which was funded by a Chinese loan during his regime, was leased to Beijing on a 99-year debt-for-equity swap in 2017 after the country failed to pay off the debt.
  10. In 2015, Parliament restored a constitutional two-term limit on the presidency barring Mahinda from contesting again. In August, Mahinda was elected to Parliament.
  11. After their defeat in 2015, the Rajapaksas were battling arrests and corruption cases in court. There were scores of cases filed against them for alleged misappropriation and the cases are still pending.
  12. Three years later, Mahinda was briefly appointed as the prime minister in October, 2018 by then President Sirisena, who sacked Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in a controversial move that plunged the country into a constitutional crisis.
  13. Mahinda resigned on December 15 after the Supreme Court declared that the dissolution of Parliament by Sirisena was "illegal".
  14. Later, Mahinda and his supporters in Parliament defected from the ruling party and joined the SLPP, founded by his brother Basil, and he formally became the Leader of the Opposition.
  15. The deadly Easter bombings on April 21, 2019 was a turning point in Sri Lankan politics. The SLPP led by the Rajapaksas lambasted the government of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe for the failure on the security front.
  16. The SLPP also announced the presidential candidacy of Mahinda Rajapaksa's younger brother Gotabhaya, who had served as his defence minister in the final years of the civil war against the LTTE.
  17. The brother-duo promised security to Sri Lankans who became worried about Islamic extremism in the Buddhist-majority country. Gotabhaya won the presidential election in 2019.
  18. After becoming President, Gotabaya appointed Mahinda as the prime minister. Mahinda, who crushed the Tamil Tigers in a brutal military campaign, assumed the role of prime minister, becoming the premier for the fourth time in his career.
  19. The powerful Rajapaksa family tightened their grip on power after their party's massive victory in the general elections in August 2020 that allowed them to amend the Constitution to restore presidential powers and install close family members at key positions.
  20. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the wily 76-year-old patriarch of the powerful Rajapaksa clan, was once known as Sri Lanka's man for all seasons, but the unprecedented anti-government protests triggered by the island nation's unprecedented economic turmoil turned out to be a tsunami that forced him to resign as the prime minister.

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