Calls for Sri Lanka parliamentary elections, new cabinet

Former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to take oath as Sri Lanka's 7th executive president in...

Sri Lanka's business community on Monday welcomed the victory of opposition candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the recently concluded presidential elections, hoping the new president would move forward with open market reforms, provide a conducive environment for local industries and attract foreign direct investments.

"I think it is a turning point in the history of Sri Lanka", said a supporter of Rajapaksa, Attorney Janaka Arunashantha.

His main rival, Sajith Premadasa, was strongly supported by the Tamil and Muslim minorities here.

"I didn't sleep all night", said student Devni, 22, one of around 30 people who gathered outside Rajapaksa's Colombo residence.

He and his brother, Mahinda, who was president here for 10 years, are credited with bringing an end to the country's long civil war.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa commands passionate support among many in the majority Buddhist Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.

However, Rajapaksa's triumph will alarm Sri Lanka's Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as activists, journalists and possibly some in the worldwide community following the 2005-15 presidency of his older brother Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa became as soon as defence chief below his brother Mahinda's 2005-15 presidency, when the militia conducted a no-holds-barred campaign to total the 37-year warfare wherein 100,000 folks perished.

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As defence secretary Gotabaya had unfettered control over the security forces, while "death squads" that abducted dozens of dissidents, opponents, journalists and others also allegedly reported to him.

Many of us had been never stumbled on again after being bundled into feared white vans, whereas some had been killed and dumped by roadsides.

The new president has denied any involvement and has resisted worldwide calls to investigate the alleged war crimes.

The U.S has been a leading critic of Sri Lanka's human rights record and has sponsored resolutions at the United Nations Human Rights Council asking the island nation to investigate alleged wartime abuses. The army, however, was accused of committing several war crimes during this time, an allegation vehemently denied by the Sri Lankan government.

Tamil youth took up arms in 1972 demanding a separate state and their violent guerilla campaign at its height saw them control a third of the country.

In his speech, Rajapaksa also pledged to prioritize national security following suicide attacks this past Easter Sunday that killed 269 people, and to follow a neutral foreign policy.

Unlike in 2015, when there were bomb attacks and shootings, this election was relatively peaceful by the standards of Sri Lanka's fiery politics. He blamed the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for weakening the intelligence apparatus he had built.

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