Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa (70), popularly known as “Gota” is the candidate for the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) or the Pohottuwa party, a breakaway faction of the SLFP led by Gotabaya’s elder brother former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

He will be contesting under the “Flower Bud” symbol.  Gotabaya held the powerful Defence Secretary post in the 2005-2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa administration.

Born on June 20, 1949, Gotabaya was educated at Ananda College, Colombo. He joined the Sri Lanka Army as a Cadet Officer in April 1971 and became a Second Lieutenant in 1972. Having initially served in the Sinha Regiment, he was transferred to the Gajaba Regiment upon its formation in 1983. In 1983, he earned a Masters in Defence Studies from the University of Chennai. In 1989 he was appointed commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment and served till 1990. During this time he attended the advanced infantry officers course at the United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning and promoted to the rank of Lt. Col. upon his return. In 1991 he was appointed Deputy Commandant of the Sir John Kotelawala Defence Academy.

He participated in several battles in the North and East, earning a number of gallantry medals. He sought early retirement from the army in 1992 and immigrated to the United States a few years later, where he worked at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles as a Systems Integrator.

He returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 upon the victory of his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Election, having obtained dual citizenship. He was then appointed as Defence Secretary and coordinated with the Tri Services Chiefs, Police/STF Chiefs and the Civil Defence Chief in the war effort, which came to a conclusion with the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. He survived an LTTE assassination attempt in December 2006.

Gotabaya then led a Colombo City beautification drive, which transformed old buildings such as the Dutch Hospital and the Independence Arcade. He also built a number of jogging tracks in and around Colombo. His entry to politics was signalled by the launch of “Viyath Maga” seminars a couple of years ago. Gotabaya announced that he was “ready” to be the SLPP presidential candidate in April 2019, which was confirmed by his brother Mahinda a couple of months later at a special convention. Gotabaya declared that he has renounced his US citizenship to contest the election here. A lawsuit filed on his citizenship status in Sri Lanka was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. His manifesto is titled “Vistas of Prosperity”.



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