Gotabaya says he will run for President

Sri Lanka’s former wartime defense chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, said on Friday he would run for President in elections this year and would stop the spread of Islamist extremism by rebuilding the intelligence service and surveilling citizens, Reuters reported.

More than 250 people were killed in bomb attacks on hotels and churches on Easter Sunday that the government has blamed on Islamist militants and that Islamic State has claimed responsibility for.

Gotabaya said the attacks could have been prevented if the island’s current government had not dismantled the intelligence network and extensive surveillance capabilities that he built up during the war and later on.

“Because the government was not prepared, that’s why you see a panic situation,” he said in an interview with Reuters.

Gotabaya said he would be a candidate “100 percent”, firming up months of speculation that he plans to run in the elections, which are due by December.

He was critical of the government’s response to the bombings. Since the attacks, the government has struggled to provide clear information about how they were staged, who was behind them and how serious the threat is from Islamic State to the country.

“Various people are blaming various people, not giving exactly the details as to what happened, even people expect the names, what organization did this, and how they came up to this level, that explanation was not given,” he said.

Gotabaya is facing lawsuits in the United States, where he is a dual citizen, over his role in the war and afterwards.

Gotabaya said the cases were baseless and only a “little distraction” as he prepared for the election campaign. He said he had asked U.S. authorities to renounce his citizenship and that process was nearly done, clearing the way for his candidature.

He said that if he won, his immediate focus would to be tackle the threat from radical Islam and to rebuild the security set-up.

“It’s a serious problem, you have to go deep into the groups, dismantle the networks,” he said, adding he would give the military a mandate to collect intelligence from the ground and to mount surveillance of groups turning to extremism.

Gotabaya said that a military intelligence cell he had set up in 2011 of 5,000 people, some of them with Arabic language skills and that was tracking the bent towards extremist ideology some of the Islamist groups were taking in eastern Sri Lanka was disbanded by the current government.

“They did not give priority to national security, there was a mix-up. They were talking about ethnic reconciliation, then they were talking about human rights issues, they were talking about individual freedoms,” he said.

12 COMMENTS

  1. We should condemned the Easter Sunday bombings that hit Sri Lankan churches and luxury hotels, killing more than 230 people
    “We add our voice to all of the voices that condemned this savage and inhumane terrorism, which is totally disconnected from human nature and morals and Semitic values, we are suffering due to ongoing battle between Islam and christian fundamentalism as a nation we have nothing to do with this Muslims hates USA and Israel . The President ,UNF and Joint opposition are trying to get political advantage for Presidential elections in December but please remember you idiots cannot fool the people.

  2. Lets all be united and finish this covered acts of Muslim extremist terrorist our forces if given full powers they will finish this Muslim terrorist within a month their logistics has already gone haywire nothing is impossible

  3. SL politicians to be blamed. Gota no exception.
    Sira tried to hang onto power. Ranil tried to fortify his authority in UNP to become Prez in 2020. MR tried to rob power at every given opportunity. these three crooks were very busy on their their targets. meanwhile every institution, every boss, every military officer in the country took one of the three sides. professionals weren’t an exception. country became lawless, headless & desperate. people saw no leader, no credibility, no government in the country. an absolute joke & anarchy. we’re paying the ultimate price for it.

    ppl elect governments. ppl elect politicians. ppl elect stupid corrupt cooks to rule them. we cant change it. in 3 months from now, SL media and society leaders will “create” new “patriots” to run the country. they’ll wash blood, dirt, drugs & accusations on these new patriots. ppl will elect them. loosers will cross to the winning side. we cant change it. what we can do is, to use this opportunity to pressure for strong, well-equipped, vigilant, and independent security establishment in the country. in US, UK, France too, governments change. fools come to power. but the security is never compromised. we have to do it in SL too.

  4. Lankan, you are spot on of your macro level hypothesis . It appears that powerful countries are yet again using minorities for their geo political agendas. Violence is part of that ploy and many folks don’t realise this. The cardinal indicated that it could be the work of some countries with a view to create a market for the sale of arms etc. Some of the international media with affiliations to these countries seems to cleverly shift the blame to one party and their interviews are directed at prefered sources, while they jump to get the views of the opposition in countries like Venezuela. The yahapaluwas failed miserably on all fronts be it the economy, safety of the citizens from criminals, drug menace, mega corruption, failure to prove allegations which they made prior to coming to power, economic hardship etc . The country need leaders with vision, discipline, a strong work ethic and dedication and a proven track record.

  5. We can’t wait till June 2020 we want Army to finish this soon we have a good brave Army commander he will this within a month this is my gut feeling

  6. Whether it is the country’s national security or development, the Rajapaksas has the answer. Foreign powers were thinking about the Easter Sunday attacks in their minds, that is why they were so keen to impose human rights and individual freedoms to implement a disaster without a hindrance. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister fell into the trap and the President decided to dace according to the PM’s music. However, the President realised what was coming but too late to reverse it. Terrorist organisations impose big powers’ agenda. The LTTE had the support from big powers and imposed the big power’s agenda, so does the ISIS. You have to be a fool to think that the powers which destroyed Sri Lanka for decades would leave you alone. If your first priority is developing the country then you must put the country’s intelligence network equally important, because one particular power sees Sri Lanka’s development is a threat to its country, Gota understands this fact.

    • ” the Rajapaksas has the answer”
      Another ‘Dreamer’ or SF-phobia?. Are you seeing ‘Kala Weddas’ in uniform in your dreams?. Cannot escape from ‘Vipaka Kamma’. It’s already started as ‘Ditta Damma Vedaneeya’….. Suwapath Weva!

    • You dream on destabilising Sri Lanka forever. He will teach you a good lesson. Politically speaking Sri Lankans are wiser than in the 1980s. You wish you can use muslims for decades as you had used Tamils. We know who’s ‘cats paw’ you are.

      • “You dream on destabilising Sri Lanka forever.”
        Sri Lanka is already a destabilised state thanks to the murderous ‘Medamoolana Clan’. I ‘walk the middle path’ and lead a life outside the loop of ‘Lobha, Dosa & Moha’. Metta to all!
        31st August 2016 BBC World News.
        “One of Sri Lanka’s most controversial politicians has been charged with corruption involving the illegal transfer of state-owned weapons.
        Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is charged with allowing a private firm to establish a floating armoury.
        It is claimed the move deprived the state of more than $75m (£57m).
        Mr Rajapaksa, who denies wrongdoing, served as defence secretary during the presidency of his brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, which ended last year.
        The charges were filed in a Colombo magistrates court by a special anti-corruption commission.
        The discovery of the floating arsenal off southern Sri Lanka, and of another weapons haul in the capital, came in the days after Mahinda Rajapaksa was voted out of office.”

  7. This statement alone gives us some consolation and confidence. Very few can handle crises of this magnitude. Now the country needs people like you. You may have done mistakes in the past, but past is the past. We want a future. So please go ahead.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here