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Sri Lankan court dismisses challenge to presidential candidate Rajapaksa's citizenship

  • Published at 12:38 am October 5th, 2019
Gotabaya Rajapaksa_Reuters
Photo: REUTERS

The three-judge panel of the Appeal Court unanimously dismissed the case that challenged the validity of Rajapaksa's Sri Lankan citizenship, which he obtained in 2005

A Sri Lankan court on Friday dismissed a legal challenge to presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa's Sri Lankan citizenship, removing a major barrier he faced in contesting the November 16 poll.

The three-judge panel of the Appeal Court unanimously dismissed the case that challenged the validity of Rajapaksa's Sri Lankan citizenship, which he obtained in 2005.

Rajapaksa is widely seen as the election frontrunner because of his popularity among majority Sinhala Buddhists for his role in ending a 26-year civil war in 2009, ushering in a decade of relative peace until Easter Day bombings that killed 250 people.

Two civil activists challenged Rajapaksa's Sri Lankan citizenship document and argued that he did not properly obtain it in 2005, when he was a United States citizen.

Rajapaksa, 70, renounced Sri Lankan citizenship in 2003 to obtain U.S. nationality, but returned to Sri Lanka two years later, applying for dual citizenship after his brother Mahinda Rajapaksa won the presidency. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in May of this year.

Sri Lanka does not allow dual citizens or non-citizens to contest national elections.

A spokesman for Rajapaksa, Keheliya Rambukwella, said the decision was a "victory for the nation and democracy."

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