Mahinda Rajapaksa: The Hard-Liner

Photograph for TIME by Namas Bhojani

Self-assured
Rajapaksa, photographed here in the presidential compound, makes no apologies for his government's methods

Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa sits at the head of a long banquet table, presiding over what looks like a hotel's lunch buffet. The mood is informal as Cabinet ministers, their clerks and assorted relatives and friends line up patiently to eat in the main dining room of Rajapaksa's official compound. Outside, on the streets of Colombo, he is the all-conquering hero. In May, Rajapaksa's government ended Sri Lanka's 26-year-long civil war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the capital's broad avenues are dominated by enormous banners glorifying him: "You are a divine...

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