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‘Sri Lanka's president Rajapaksa cements family power as brothers join cabinet’

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Newly elected President of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, has begun concentrating power in his own family by appointing his brothers Mahinda and Chamal as ministers, writes Hannah Ellis-Peterson, in an article for The Guardian. 

Gotabaya's "win marked a return to power for the Rajapaksa family, which has been one of the most dominant political dynasties in Sri Lanka for over a decade. Their previous time in power was marked by human rights abuses, disappearances and a stranglehold over the judiciary and police."

"His brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was president from 2005 to 2015, with Gotabaya serving as his secretary of defence.Due to a law introduced by the previous government, Mahinda could not run for another term as president, so Gotabaya was put forward as the candidate. However, suggestions that Mahinda, the more charismatic and popular of the pair, would remain the de facto leader of government were realised this week when he was sworn in as both prime minister and finance minister, two of the most powerful political posts. He was also given the departments of Buddhist, cultural and religious affairs and urban development, water supply and housing."

"Another Rajapaksa brother, Chamal, a legislator, was sworn in as the minister of agriculture, irrigation, internal trade, and consumer welfare. Meanwhile Basil, another brother, will continue to play a powerful role behind the scenes as chief strategist."

"The appointments pave the way for a similar concentration of power into the hands of the Rajapaksa family which occurred when Mahinda was president. At the time it gave the brothers the power to act with complete impunity, exercise control over the courts and condone a campaign of intimidation and violence against journalists and critics. There are multiple court cases relating to corruption and torture pending against both Gotabaya and Basil."

Read the full piece here