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Monday
September 2020
5:34 AM IST
News Headlines
Burkina Faso striker Traore leaves Lyon for Aston Villa        AIFF to conduct three-day International Virtual Conference for coaches        Looking to play good brand of cricket to make this season a memorable one: KL Rahul        US stocks fall as market decline extends for third week        No decision to discontinue printing of Rs 2000 note: FinMin        Iran vows 'hit' on all involved in US killing of top general        Russia's Navalny says he's now more than 'technically alive'        Pak uses drone to weapons in J-K's Rajouri; 3 LeT terrorists arrested        Centre rejects study which claims India is world's largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide        Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan not implemented in Bengal as state did not provide any info: FM        Parliament's monsoon session likely to be curtailed, may end by mid-next week        Kerala reports 4,000 plus fresh COVID-19 cases for second day in row; Toll crosses 500        China flies 18 warplanes near Taiwan during US envoy''s visit        US bans WeChat, TikTok citing national security        IPL 2020: Dhoni''s CSK lock horns with Rohit led MI in opener        US Open champion Osaka out of French Open due to injury        NIA questions Ker Minister Jaleel for over 8 hours; No need for him to resign, says CM        Delhi riots: Police files charge sheet under UAPA against 15 for larger conspiracy        Serum Institute gets DGCA''s nod to resume testing of Covid vaccine again        Russia''s RDIF collaborates with Dr Reddy''s Laboratories for Sputnik V vaccine trials, distribution: CEO        
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International News
Sri Lanka will be friendly with all nations, but neutral in matters among int'l powers: Gotabaya
 
Colombo: Sri Lanka's newly-elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa delivered a measured speech on Monday at his swearing-in ceremony, saying his country will maintain friendly ties with all nations and remain neutral in matters involving international powers so as to stay out of conflicts.

The 70-year-old controversial wartime defence secretary's statement is of importance as Sri Lanka has historically been an important commercial hub along the maritime routes due to its strategic position in the Indian Ocean, where China is increasingly making its inroads, raising concerns in India.

Rajapaksa stormed to victory on Sunday, trouncing his nearest rival Sajith Premadasa by a margin of over 13 lakh votes - 52.25 per cent of votes polled against 41.99 per cent.

In his first address to the nation at the Ruwanweli Seya in Anuradhapura, Rajapaksa spoke on matters such as foreign policy and sustainable development.

On foreign policy, the newly-elected President noted that Sri Lanka will remain friendly with all nations but would remain neutral so as to stay out of conflicts between international powers, Sri Lankan news outlet News First reported.

He also pledged to support the UN's sustainable development goals and make Sri Lanka one of the leading countries in sustainable development.

President Rajapaksa assured that corruption would not be tolerated under his administration.

Rajapaksa, who ruthlessly ended Sri Lanka's nearly 30-year civil war with the LTTE, is both respected and reviled in the island nation where he is considered a "war hero" by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, but mostly distrusted by the minority Tamils.

A former military man, Rajapaksa attended the counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school in Assam in 1980, served as the defence secretary during his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa's tenure as president from 2005 to 2014.

In 1983, he also got a masters in Defence Studies from the University of Madras.

Rajapaksa visited India in 2012 and 2013 in his capacity as the defence secretary.

While families of ethnic Tamils killed or disappeared during the civil war accuse Rajapaksa of war crimes, Muslims fear his popularity among Sinhalese Buddhists will further deepen the divide between the two communities post the Easter Sunday attacks carried out by Islamist extremists that claimed 269 lives.

The Hindus and Muslims together constitute approximately 20 per cent of Sri Lanka's population.

Though dubbed as "war hero", the role of Rajapaksa in ending the conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) with the death of its supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009 is quite divisive as he stands accused of violating human rights, a charge he vehemently denies.

During his first media interaction in October after being declared as a presidential candidate of the Sri Lanka People's Party (SLPP), Rajapaksa said if elected, he would not honour the country's commitments to the UN Human Rights Council on post-war accountability and reconciliation.

"We will always work with the United Nations, but I can't recognise what they (UN) have signed with (the) past governments," he said.

Sri Lanka co-sponsored a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution in September 2015 which made it committed to fulfil a range of measures dealing with human rights, accountability and transitional justice.

Rajapaksa is accused of overseeing torturing and indiscriminate killings of both civilians and combatants, and later of political assassinations.

He and his brother Mahinda are also accused of condoning sexual violence and extrajudicial killings allegedly by Lankan security forces during the war.

Rajapaksa, who was a top target of the Tamil Tigers, survived an assassination attempt in December 2006 by an LTTE suicide bomber. He is also considered to be tilted towards cash-rich China.

During his brother Mahinda's regime, China started investing heavily in infrastructure projects in the island nation as Lanka faced international isolation at the tail end of the civil war.

Critics say it was due to Mahinda that the country has fallen into the "Chinese debt trap".

The Hambantota port, which was funded by a Chinese loan during Mahinda's regime, was leased to Beijing on a 99-year debt-for-equity swap in 2017 after the country failed to pay off the debt.

Born on June 20, 1949, in Palatuwa in Matara district, Rajapaksa, who hails from a high-profile political family, is the fifth of nine siblings.

His father D A Rajapaksa was a prominent politician in 1960s in the Wijeyananda Dahanayake government and also a founding member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

He joined the Ceylon Army as a Cadet Officer in 1971. In 1991, he was appointed Deputy Commandant of the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy and held the position until his early retirement from the army in 1992.

During his 20 years of military service, Rajapaksa received awards for gallantry from three Lankan presidents - J R Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and D B Wijetunga.

In 2005, he returned to Lanka to assist his brother Mahinda's presidential election campaign. During that time, he obtained a dual citizenship from Sri Lanka.

He was appointed to the post of defence secretary in November 2005 by then newly elected president Mahinda. In this capacity, he oversaw the military operation which eventually defeated the LTTE in May 2009 and earned him the tag of a "war hero".

Rajapaksa is married and has a son.


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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
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KERALA NEWS
Take steps to attach properties of pvt financial institution; HC to govt
 Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday directed the state government to take steps to attach the
Kerala logs single-day highest spike of 3,830 COVID-19 cases
Jaleel has committed no wrong, says Kerala CM
"My hands are clean, not accepted any gift or money" Minister
NATIONAL NEWS
Pak uses drone to weapons in J-K's Rajouri; 3 LeT terrorists arrested
 Jammu, Sep 19 (PTI) Pakistan dropped weapons and some cash in Indian currency using a drone in Jammu
Centre rejects study which claims India is world's largest emitter of anthropogenic sulphur dioxide
Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan not implemented in Bengal as state did not provide any info: FM
Delhi riots: Police files charge sheet under UAPA against 15 for larger conspiracy
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