Mahinda Rajapaksa is a Sri Lankan politician who served as President of the country for six years. He was originally sworn in as president in November 2005 and was re-elected in January 2010 for a second term, serving until January 2015. He began his political career decades ago when he was first elected to the Sri Lankan Parliament as a lawyer. During his early years in politics, he served as minister of labor and minister of fisheries and aquatic resources. He became a very popular politician who garnered the love and admiration of his countrymen as a human rights advocate. With his strong ethics and commitment to the country, he became a well-liked politician who was finally elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in 2004. He was sworn in as the country’s fifth Executive President the following year. Sri Lankan politics were in shambles when he took power, with the extremist militant group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) threatening to destabilize the country. He initiated a war on terrorism, which culminated in the Sri Lankan army destroying the LTTE, thanks to his able leadership and precise planning.
Childhood and Adolescence
On November 18, 1945, Percy Mahendra “Mahinda” Rajapaksa was born into a prominent political family in Weerakatiya, Southern Province, British Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). D. A. Rajapaksa, his father, was a Member of Parliament and Cabinet Minister, and his uncle was a State Councillor.
He went to Galle’s Richmond College before transferring to Colombo’s Nalanda College. Later in life, he attended Thurstan College.
Career of Mahinda Rajapaksa
He was elected to Parliament at the age of 24 in 1970, making him the Parliament’s youngest-ever member. He also studied law at the Colombo Law College in the 1970s, graduating in 1974.
In 1977, he lost his parliamentary seat and opted to concentrate on his legal career. He established himself as a prominent lawyer in Tangalle. Along with his legislative career, he continued to practice law for several years.
In 1989, he was re-elected to Parliament under the Proportional Representation system to represent the Hambantota District. As a human rights fighter, he rose to prominence as a politician during this period.
Following the People’s Alliance’s election victory in 1994, he was appointed Minister of Labour, a position he held until 1997 when he was reassigned to the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources as part of a cabinet reshuffle.
After the United National Party (UNP) beat the People’s Alliance in the 2001 elections, he was named Leader of the Opposition in March 2002.
In the 2004 Parliamentary Elections, Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance won a slender majority, and he was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s 13th Prime Minister on April 6, 2004. While serving as Prime Minister, he also held the Ministry of Highways.
He was picked by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to run the Presidential election in 2005 against former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the head of the United National Party (UNP).
Despite a massive electoral campaign spearheaded by the UNP, Rajpaksa was able to win by 190,000 votes. On November 19, 2005, he was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka, and on November 23, he was given the ministries of Defense and Finance in the new cabinet.
At the time of his election, Sri Lanka was in the midst of a political crisis. With its extremist operations, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers, posed a threat to the country’s security.
Rajapaksa set to deal with this serious issue soon after becoming a power. The Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, Sarath Fonseka, and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Rajapaksa’s brother, and Defense Secretary, commanded the country’s armed forces in their campaign against the LTTE under his command.
Following a brutal battle between the Sri Lankan Army and the Tamil Tigers over the next three and a half years, Fonseka and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa eventually defeated the Tigers and killed their leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in 2009, effectively putting an end to the militant group that had threatened Sri Lanka for so long.
He became a national hero in Sri Lanka after defeating the LTTE and restoring the country’s integrity and sovereignty. On 27 January 2010, he was comfortably re-elected for a second term in office due to his popularity.
He remained in office for another five years before being defeated in the 2015 Presidential Elections by Maithripala Sirisena.
Major Projects of Mahinda Rajapaksa
Rajapaksa is best known for his leadership role in ending the 30-year war against the militant group LTTE, which is considered one of the world’s most extreme terrorist organizations. In a dramatic conflict in 2009, the Sri Lankan army vanquished the LTTE.
Achievements & Awards
In September 2009, he received a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Colombo.
In February 2010, the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia gave him an Honorary Doctorate for his commitment to international peace and great accomplishment in combating terrorism.
In 2011, the Beijing University of Foreign Languages in China awarded him an Honorary Doctorate.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1983, he married Shiranthi Wickremasinghe, a child psychotherapist and educator. Namal, Yoshitha, and Rohitha are the couple’s three sons. Namal, his son, followed in his father’s footsteps and became a politician as well.
Estimated Net Worth
Mahinda Rajapaksa is believed to have a net worth of $18 million USD.