Former Defense Chief, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, won Sri Lanka’s presidential elections on November 17, 2019. The new president has pledged to prioritize national security, as the country continues to reel from the Easter Sunday bombings by ISIS militants this past year, which was directed at churches and luxury hotels, and killed hundreds of people. President Rajapaksa has the reputation of a decisive leader, nicknamed “The Terminator” by his own family, and Sri Lankans now look to him to direct his efficiency towards revitalizing the economy.
A huge task lies ahead of the president to improve Sri Lanka’s economy, which faces an enormous debt burden and has experienced a deteriorating economic situation especially as tourism dwindled following the terrorist attacks. While many are optimistic about the president’s ability to lead the country on a path of neutral foreign policy and economic development, fears remain regarding the former lieutenant colonel’s history of war crime allegations. The president denies the allegations and has urged those bringing it up to look towards the future and not the past.