Can Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clear Legal Hurdles in the US and Contest the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka?

Can Gotabaya Rajapaksa Clear Legal Hurdles in the US and Contest the Presidential Elections in Sri Lanka?

When the Colombo High Court granted Gotabaya special permission to travel to the United States between March 26 and April 12, no doubt he would have been over the moon to be given the chance to spend a spring holiday in his adopted country. But as things stand today, this seeming blessing has turned out to be a curse in disguise for him.

Only last month had the Rajapaksa Family anointed him as their choice to contest the Presidency on the Pohottuwa party ticket. Even though the party itself has still not officially announced his candidature on its ticket, it is widely expected that he will win the nomination if his brother Mahinda gives his wholehearted approval in public the same nod he perhaps grudgingly gave to the family members when they met last month at Mahinda’s official Colombo 7 residence; and held a family-members-only dinner to decide over a meal of hoppers, perhaps, who should be the SLPP candidate at the presidential poll to be held at the end of the year.

With that important primary vote – not made by party members as its is done in the States but by the Rajapaksa siblings – won and under his belt and with the court, before which he faces charges of misusing public money, granting his request for two weeks to travel abroad, no doubt, he felt himself flying high on the road to Lanka’s presidency.

But last Sunday evening at the car park of Trader Joe’s Super Grocery Store in Pasadena, California, some form of Nemesis seems to have caught up with him and has possibly fouled his chances of being eligible to run in the presidential races. The fates that work in mysterious ways appear to have hobbled the Rajapaksa favourite steed in a United States Pasadena paddock.

Reportedly he was on his way to attend a meeting organised by the former Los Angeles consul under Rajapaksa regime titled ‘Meet the future President’ when a quirk of fate prompted him to make a pit stop at Trader Joe’s to shop for some fruits.

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