Who are the Rajapaksas? Meet the Patriarch, 'Terminator', 'Mr Ten Percent', 'Bodyguard' and 'Scion'
Colombo, May 10: Sri Lanka is currently in the throes of unprecedented economic turmoil since its independence from Britain in 1948. The crisis is caused in part by a lack of foreign currency, which has meant that the country cannot afford to pay for imports of staple foods and fuel, leading to acute shortages and very high prices.
Thousands of demonstrators have hit the streets across Sri Lanka since April 9 seeking resignation of President Gotabaya and Prime Minister Mahinda, as the government ran out of money for vital imports; prices of essential commodities have skyrocketed and there are acute shortages in fuel, medicines and electricity supply.
A look at the family's vast political network
The Rajapaksa family is a Sri Lankan family that is prominent in politics. It was one of Sri Lanka's most powerful families during Mahinda Rajapaksa's Presidency, where many members of the family occupied senior positions in the Sri Lankan state.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, 74, is the patriarch of the family and served as prime minister in 2004 and then president from 2005 until January 2015.
Following the unexpected defeat of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the 2015 Presidential Election, they have been accused of authoritarianism, corruption, nepotism and bad governance. In 2019 Presidential election Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of Mahinda Rajapaksa contested and won. The popularity of the Rajapaksa family collapsed after their actions caused the 2019 Sri Lankan Economic Crisis resulting in Sri Lanka defaulting on its debt for the first time in its post-independence history within just 30 months of coming to power.
He was appointed prime minister a second time by his brother Gotabaya in November.
Mahinda is adored by the Sinhala-Buddhist majority for crushing separatist Tamil rebels in May 2009 following a highly controversial military offensive that ended a decades-long civil war.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, 71, was the main lieutenant of Mahinda during his reign, holding the influential post of secretary to the ministry of defence with responsibility for day-to-day control of the armed forces and police.
Dubbed "The Terminator" by his own family, he is feared by foes for his short temper.
As president he has presided over Sri Lanka's spiralling economic crisis. A dire shortage of foreign currency -- needed to pay down Sri Lanka's debt -- forced the government to ban swathes of imports, causing severe shortages of essentials.
Sri Lanka's heavily tourism-dependent economy was first hit by the Easter Sunday Islamist attacks of 2019 and then torpedoed by Covid.
He has faced several corruption allegations, but his court cases have been frozen or withdrawn as he enjoys immunity after winning the presidency in 2019.
Mr. Ten Percent
Basil Rajapaksa, 69, is a political strategist who managed the economy under Mahinda. He was called "Mr. Ten Percent" in a BBC interview in reference to commissions he allegedly took from government contracts.
Subsequent administrations failed to prove any charges he syphoned off millions of dollars from state coffers. All cases against him have been dropped since Gotabaya became president.
Chamal Rajapaksa, 77, was speaker of the Sri Lankan parliament when brother Mahinda was president and is also a former minister of shipping and aviation. Formerly a police officer, he once served as a personal bodyguard to Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the world's first woman prime minister.
Namal Rajapaksa, 35, a lawyer, is the scion of the family dynasty and the eldest son of Mahinda, who is thought to be grooming him to be president one day.
He entered parliament in 2010 aged just 24, and is now minister for sports and youth.
During his father's decade in power, Namal was highly influential although he did not hold any portfolio.
A rival former administration accused him of money laundering and other corruption charges, which he denies.
(with inputs from PTI, AFP)