Gotabaya Rajapaksa resigned as Sri Lanka’s President on Thursday. He was facing mounting criticism for his economic policies for the country. Protests erupted in the South Asian island nation earlier this week, demanding the resignation of Rajapaksa.

The protests took an unexpected turn on Thursday, when law enforcement officials used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowds. The President’s office later declared a national emergency and curfew putting nearly 22 million people in their homes. Social media services were suspended on Sunday.

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Who is Gotabaya Rajapaksa?

Gotabaya Rajapaksa served as the 7th Executive President of Sri Lanka. He took over the country’s top office following the Presidential Election held on 16th November 2019.

Rajapaksa was born in 1949 and completed his early education at Colombo’s Ananda College. Before pursuing his Master’s Degree in Defence Studies from the University of Madras, he joined the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The brother of Sri Lanka’s 5th Executive President Mahinda Rajapaksa and son of former Cabinet Minister D. A. Rajapaksa,  the 72-year-old has been involved in the country’s politics for years.

Becoming a part of his brother’s cabinet, Rajapaksa was given the position of Secretary to the Ministry of Defence in 2005. He was also conferred with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Colombo at the end of the term for his service, according to the politician’s official website.

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Rajapaksa also served as the Secretary to the Ministry of Urban Development, however, he resigned in 2015 following a change in government.

Before actively joining Sri Lankan politics, he founded Viyath Maga, an organization that brought together professionals committed to a better future for the country, and the Eliya organization, which sought to increase public awareness about critical issues pertaining to them.