Education/ Early life
Born in Weeraketiya in the deep south, November 18, 1945, Rajapaksa
schooled at Richmond College, Galle, later shifting to Nalanda
College and Thurstan College Colombo. In 1974 he passed out
as an Attorney-at-Law from the Colombo Law College and took
his place at the bar, pursuing a special interest in human rights.
Throughout his parliamentary career,
except for the period when he was a minister, he continued
his law practice in Tangalle, in other courts of the south
particularly espousing the cause of those affected by human
Loyalty to principle and party has been the
hallmark of Rajapaksa’s political philosophy. Such loyalty
was a special quality in his father, as well. When the SLFP’s
founder S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, left the UNP Government to
form the SLFP in 1951, all his promised allies had abandoned
him, but D.A. Rajapaksa, stood by him and crossed over with
Mahinda Rajapaksa was first elected to Parliament as an SLFP
member, from the Beliatta seat in 1970. At just 24 years of
age, he was the youngest member of the House. His father,
D.A. Rajapaksa represented the same seat from 1947 to 1965.
Although he lost his parliamentary seat in the
landslide victory of the UNP in 1977, he was re-elected to
Parliament in 1989 to represent Hambantota District under
the Proportional Representation System.
From the start of his career, Rajapaksa adopted
a centre-left political stance, identifying himself with labour
rights and becoming a champion of human rights. He was a leading
member of the Parliamentarians for Human Rights.
He came into prominence as a champion of human
rights, together with Dr. Manorani Saravanamuttu, of the Mother's
Front, which organized the mothers of the “disappeared”
in the white terror of 1988-90. The Visva Bharati University
of Calcutta in India conferred on him the title Professor
Emeritus for his record on human rights.
He has been the President of the Sri Lankan
Committee for Solidarity with Palestine for 25 years until
2004 and has always maintained a close interest in finding
a peaceful solution to the Middle East problem within the
framework of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Rajapaksa was Minister for Labour and later
for Fisheries in President Kumaratunga's Cabinet from 1994
to 2001. As the Minister of Fisheries he started the sagara
vishwa vidayalaya (University for Oceanography) and established
a Coast Guard Unit.
He also held the Portfolio of the Ports and
Shipping in addition to Fisheries, for three months. During
this period he initiated work for the construction of a new
harbour at Hambantota.
In March 2002 Rajapaksa was elected Leader of the Opposition.
After the elections of April 2004 in which the
United People’s Freedom Alliance was victorious, President
Chandrika Kumaratunga appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the country’s
13th Prime Minister on April 6, 2004.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was chosen as the Candidate
of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party for the Presidential Election
held on 17 November 2005. His candidature was supported by
25 political parties and people’s movements.
Mahinda Rajapaksa was sworn in as the fifth
Executive President of the Democratie Socialist Republic of
Sri Lanka on the 19th of November 2005, after being elected
President with a majority that endorsed Mahinda Chinthana
his manifesto at a closely contested and peaceful election.