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'Sri Lanka’s president is amassing personal power'

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Sri Lanka’s president Gotabaya Rajapaksa “has made explicit the link he sees between an all-powerful state and the centrality of Buddhism, whose more chauvinist priests he courts,” writes the Economist this week, as it warned that Rajapaksa is “amassing personal power”.

“Gotabaya’s message of security and competence, along with jabs at the Muslim and Tamil minorities designed to please the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, propelled him to the presidency,” wrote the Banyan columnist.

“A Gotabaya presidency makes a return to the earlier hounding of critics possible,” the column added. “Out of public view, Mr Rajapaksa’s notorious irascibility—he flies off the handle and bears grudges—is returning. More probably, his martinet notions of a “disciplined society” risk dashing dreams of a plural, devolved Sri Lanka in which the Tamils who form a majority in the north and Muslims who make up a tenth of the population are as much a part of the polity as Sinhalese."

“For now, Mr Rajapaksa has made explicit the link he sees between an all-powerful state and the centrality of Buddhism, whose more chauvinist priests he courts,” it continued. 

“Of the 66 ministers only three are Tamils and just one is a Muslim (there is only one woman, too). The message is stark: in the ethno-nationalist state, everyone must know their station.”

Read the full text of the column here.

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