Sri Lankan presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa renounces US citizenship

Sri Lankan presidential hopeful Gotabaya Rajapaksa renounces US citizenship

FILE PHOTO: Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's former defence secretary and brother of former President Ra
FILE PHOTO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's former defence secretary and brother of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa looks on during an interview with Foreign Correspondents Association of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

COLOMBO: Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a key politician in Sri Lanka's civil war, has renounced US citizenship, paving the way for him to make a bid on his country's presidency.

Sri Lanka does not allow dual citizenship and foreign nationals cannot contest elections.

Gotabaya, a defence chief during the civil war that ended in 2009 and the younger brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, announced late April that he would run in the presidential election due later this year.

He is very popular among Sri Lanka's politically powerful Sinhala Buddhist majority, which accounts for 70 per cent of the country's 21 million population.

"I can say Gotabaya Rajapaksa has renounced his US citizenship," Basil Rajapaksa, former economy minister and Gotabaya's brother, told a news conference on Thursday.

Gotabaya, along with his then-president brother Mahinda, is credited with having crushed the Tamil Tiger insurgent group in 2009 but he has also been accused of human rights violations, especially in the closing stages of the 26-year war.

He is facing war-related lawsuits in the United States and the claims had earlier been expected to delay the process of him dropping US citizenship.

Gotabaya has rejected the allegations of human rights abuse.

Basil Rajapaksa's party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, is widely expected to nominate Gotabaya as its candidate for the presidential election on Aug 11.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the current opposition leader, will be named as party chief the same day, Basil said.

Source: Reuters/jt

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