Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

BUSINESS DAILY

The Tour de France, a PR machine

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the third plane crash in one week - from France, Algeria and Burkina Faso

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Coverage of the plane crash that took 116 lives - almost half of them French

Read more

DEBATE

Gaza: A Truce At All Costs?

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Central African Republic: Brazzaville ceasefire talks deliver fragile deal

Read more

FOCUS

Sluggish tourist season in Crimea

Read more

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

  • Live: ‘No survivors’ from Algerian plane crash, says Hollande

    Read more

  • French families grieve for Algerian plane crash victims

    Read more

  • Protest against Gaza offensive turns deadly in West Bank

    Read more

  • Ukraine names acting PM after Yatseniuk's shock resignation

    Read more

  • Deadly strike on UN shelter in Gaza Strip

    Read more

  • Wreckage of Algeria plane found in Mali

    Read more

  • BNP to pay $80 million for defrauding Dept of Agriculture

    Read more

  • Pope meets Christian woman sentenced to death in Sudan

    Read more

  • Air Algérie crash: 'We should eliminate the missile hypothesis'

    Read more

  • Italy’s Nibali cruises to victory in 18th stage of Tour de France

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • US, European agencies lift travel restrictions to Tel Aviv

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Rajapakse beats former army chief to win second term

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-01-27

Mahinda Rajapakse won a second term as Sri Lanka's president after a hard fought and often bitter campaign against his one-time army chief and main rival, Sarath Fonseka.

AFP - Mahinda Rajapakse, who was elected for a second term as Sri Lankan president Wednesday, is a Sinhalese nationalist who ordered the military offensive that finally ended the island's long ethnic war.
  
During his first term, he placed his three brothers in key government positions and ruthlessly pursued the Tamil Tiger rebels until they were crushed in May.
  
As war raged, the opposition focused on the alleged corruption of the "Rajapakse Brothers and Company," but the president strongly defended his family and pressed ahead with his onslaught against the separatist guerrillas.
  
An unabashed "hawk", he became a villain for international rights groups during fighting against the Tigers who were eventually wiped out by troops commanded by his unsuccessful poll opponent, former army chief Sarath Fonseka.
  

Rajapakse, 64, stands accused of abuses and war crimes, with the United Nations estimating that 7,000 civilians were killed in the final months of fighting.
  
He blames the damage to his international image on a "Western conspiracy" and his spokesman openly accused the United States and former peacebroker Norway of funding those who opposed him in the election.
  
"They are trying to preach to us about civilians," Rajapakse said last year. "I tell them to go and see what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan."
  
When the United States and the European Union cut off aid, Rajapakse leaned heavily on China, Iran and Libya as well as other Asian nations for cash and arms to fight the Tigers. In November, he hosted Myanmar's junta leader General Than Shwe.
  
A veteran street-fighter politician who entered parliament aged 24, Rajapakse drew on all his experience to retain the presidency in a bruising campaign against Fonseka, a political novice.
  
Rajapakse had handpicked Fonseka for the top military role soon after coming to power in 2005 and lauded him as the "best army commander in the world" in the afterglow of their victory over the Tigers.
  
But their friendship soured over who should take the most credit for winning the conflict amid suspicion that Fonseka was becoming too powerful and might stage a coup.
  
In a measure of the bad blood between them, when Rajapakse was asked if he had made any poor choices during his first four years in charge he replied: "Choosing my army commander".
  
Despite allegations of corruption and nepotism, Rajapakse retained much popular affection among Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese community -- who greeted the Tigers' defeat with delight.
  
He boasts an easy charm with ordinary people, who also warm to his wife Shiranthi, a former "Miss Sri Lanka".
  
He took on the part of an army general in the 1993 Sinhalese movie, "Nomiyana Minusun" (The Immortals). In real life, as commander-in-chief, he achieved the single goal of his first term: the Tigers' extinction.
  
But he faces an enormous task in rebuilding Sri Lanka's war ravaged economy, and is under stiff international pressure to secure a lasting political solution that addresses the grievances of the Tamil minority.
  
Rajapakse and Fonseka had both courted Tamil voters during the election campaign, with pledges of greater political inclusion and investment in the devastated northeast region.

Date created : 2010-01-27

  • THE OBSERVERS

    When election cards turn into propaganda material

    Read more

  • SRI LANKA

    General who defeated Tamil Tigers launches presidential bid

    Read more

  • SRI LANKA

    Army chief who defeated Tamil Tigers resigns

    Read more

COMMENT(S)