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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's Dual Nationality Issue Resurfaces Days Ahead of Sri Lankan Presidential Polls

The Supreme Court petition came on the last day of campaigning before the 72 hours official campaign lull period.

PTI

Updated:November 13, 2019, 10:56 PM IST
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Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's Dual Nationality Issue Resurfaces Days Ahead of Sri Lankan Presidential Polls
File photo of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. (Reuters)

Colombo: Two Sri Lankan civil society activists on Wednesday filed an appeal before the Supreme Court against the alleged dual nationality of main opposition presidential candidate Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Gamini Viyangoda and Chandragupta Thenuwara approached the apex court after the Court of Appeal rejected their petition in last month.

The court's refusal to issue a writ against Rajapaksa cleared his way to file nominations for this week's presidential election.

The Supreme Court petition came on the last day of campaigning before the 72 hours official campaign lull period.

Rajapaksa, who was a US resident since 2003, is claimed to have renounced his American citizenship in April this year in order to qualify to be a candidate. In the 19th amendment to the Constitution adopted in 2015, dual citizens are barred from contesting elections.

Rajapaksa's failure to provide a renunciation document to prove his giving up of US citizenship has been a campaign issue.

A Buddhist monk is currently on the fourth day of a sit-in demanding Rajapaksa to produce his renunciation document.

The issue resurfaced last week with the non-appearance of Rajapaksa's name as those who had renounced the US citizenship in the latest edition of US federal list.

Rajapaksa camp has claimed that all documents had been duly submitted to the US authorities and his American citizenship had ceased the moment he had handed over the papers. The federal register would include his name once the current backlog would be cleared.

They argue that since he could not be defeated by the ruling party challenger Sajith Premadasa, they were bringing up the citizenship issue to sway voters.

Premadasa camp hit back, saying Rajapaksa would be soundly beaten in the election but his false claim to escape the law's requirements must be exposed.

Nearly 16 million voters are eligible to vote at Saturday's election to appoint the head of the state for a 5-year term.

Rajapaksa, who is Premadasa's main rival, relies on the Sinhala majority to be elected president. Premadasa is seen as the more secular choice.

The Tamil and Muslim votes are crucial to form the government.

In 2015, current president Maithripala Sirisena, who was the main opposition challenger, secured most of the minority votes when he defeated Sri Lanka Freedom Party's Mahinda Rajapaksa ending his 10-year rule.

Tamils, however, remain disgruntled as the current government has failed to adopt a new Constitution to address their demand for political autonomy.

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