The shock wave of Easter attacks in Sri Lanka hit the polls on Saturday, prompting the return of strong men who liquidated the Tamil Tigers guerrillas 10 years ago.
The new president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa - a 70-year-old former defense minister who captained the controversial offensive against the last guerrilla stronghold - has sworn today as prime minister to his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa - 74 years old and president during the last stage of the conflict-, resuscitating the spectrum of human rights violations of the lead years of the conflict . His reputation for toughness has earned even the new president and former lieutenant colonel the nickname 'Terminator'.
The climate of fear in the country after the April attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels - which left more than 269 dead and hundreds injured - has tipped the population towards the hard hand against jihadism that both brothers promised in the campaign .
"The attacks hit us completely," says Selyna Peiris, director of Selyn, a textile fair trade company based in Colombo that employs thousands of women across the country. “We sold mostly to foreigners and this year, for example, we will not grow anything. All this has affected the elections because people get scared .
The attacks hit the rupee and the crucial tourism sector, which landed six million tourists a year at Colombo airport, in search of the paradise of jungle, beach and Zen philosophy offered by the pearl of the Indian. "I was unemployed for three months after that, the governments began to discourage trips to Sri Lanka," confirms the tourist guide Malin Perera, 35. " Now it seems that we are beginning to recover ."
The Sinhalese and Buddhist majority has once again granted the Rajapaksa clan the keys to the country traumatized by a bloody 26-year-old war that left 100,000 dead , 400,000 displaced, thousands missing and an endless rosary of allegations of atrocities by both sides. To those perpetrated by the Government are those of a pioneer guerrilla in the launch of suicide attacks and the use of civilians as human shields.
Meanwhile, the Hindu minorities - to which the Tamils belong - and Muslim - who after the Islamist attacks of Holy Week suffered a wave of reprisals - fear a campaign of repression by the Government.
In the memory is the bloody operation in the last stronghold of Tamil Tigers, during which up to 40,000 people died . The Rajkapaksa deny repeated allegations of torture, extrajudicial executions, rapes, disappearances and kidnappings that earned them the conviction of the United States and Europe and inclined the country toward China. One of the most serious concerns that under the mandate of both brothers, death squads were created to kill dissidents and journalists.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa tried to show a conciliatory tone after being elected. "I am aware that I am also president of those who voted against me," he said after being declared the winner by 52.25% of the vote , according to France Presse. "It is my duty to serve all citizens of Sri Lanka without discrimination based on race or religion," he said. "I promise to do my duty fairly."
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