Pohottuwa’s President and the Rajapaksa dotage

June 27, 2018 (LBO) – Former President of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa was born on November 18, 1945. A day after he turned 60 years old, on November 19, 2005, he assumed the Presidency.  He had just narrowly defeated current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was 56 at the time.

By the time the 2020 Presidential election in Sri Lanka rolls around, Mahinda Rajapaksa will be 74 years young!  Because the constitution includes a two term limit on the Presidency, he will have to choose a successor to contest the election who will in turn make him Prime Minister and head of government.  It has become the consensus expectation that he will choose one of his siblings.

The person most talked about is the former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.  In 2005, when he was brought into the Sri Lankan public eye as defence secretary, he was a young 56 years of age.  At the time of the next presidential election, he will be 71 years of age. He is the same age as current Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.  However, unlike the PM who has spent 40 years in Parliament, Gotabaya Rajapaksa has never held elected office.

Another brother much talked about is Basil Rajapaksa, the once powerful former minister of economic development.  He was initially brought into Parliament through the national list, later contesting and topping the preference votes in the Gampaha district in the 2010 general elections.  He did not contest the 2015 general elections.  Appearances can be deceiving, because although he has a jet black head of hair, Wikipedia states his birth year as 1947. By the time the 2020 elections come, he will be at least 72.

The third brother, who is emerging as sort of a compromise candidate, is former Speaker of the House Chamal Rajapaksa.  He has been a long time elected member of parliament, giving him by far the most political seniority.  By the time the 2020 elections come, he will be 80 years of age.  By the time he would finish his theoretical first term, he would be 85.  If he contests again and wins, he will finish his political career at age 90.

The average male life expectancy in Sri Lanka is just under 75 years old. Although the Rajapaksa brothers seem omnipresent on the political stage, age is without a doubt climbing up on them.  Clearly they are not as young as they used to be, when Mahinda Rajapaksa first assumed the Presidency at 60 years of age.