Nandasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa was born on 20th June 1949 to former Cabinet Minister D. A. Rajapaksa and Dandina Dissanayake Rajapaksa. He is the 5th sibling in a family of 9 and is the brother to 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka and current Leader of Opposition, His Excellency, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chamal Rajapaksa, former Speaker of the Parliament and Basil Rajapaksa, former Cabinet Minister.
He was educated at Ananda College, Colombo and joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1971. During his military service, he earned a Master’s Degree in Defense Studies from the University of Madras and underwent advanced training in Pakistan, India and the USA. Having commanded many anti-terrorist operations in the North and East of Sri Lanka, he was awarded the Rana Wickrama Padakkama and Rana Sura Padakkama Medals for Gallantry and Excellence in combat. He also received commendations from the President of Sri Lanka and the Commander of the Army for his bravery in action. After retiring from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1991, Mr. Rajapaksa studied Information Technology at the University of Colombo where he attained a Post Graduate Diploma in Information Technology. He later emigrated to the USA with his family where he worked as an IT professional at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, California.
Mr. Rajapaksa returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 with the election of his brother, HE Mahinda Rajapaksa as the 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka and was appointed as Secretary to the Ministry of Defense on 25th November 2005. He was instrumental in ending the three decades long terrorist conflict in Sri Lanka through an expertly conceived and skillfully coordinated military strategy. Following the end of the conflict, he swiftly restored normalcy to the country, whilst taking steps to further consolidate national security. In post-war Sri Lanka, Mr. Rajapaksa fast-tracked the de-mining of the North and Eastern Provinces affected by the war and displaced civilians were resettled in their homes, within a short span of time. He also initiated a globally recognized de-radicalization and rehabilitation program whereby approximately 13,500 former LTTE combatants were re-integrated to society successfully.
In 2009 Mr Rajapaksa received Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) from the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
On 25th April 2010, Mr. Rajapaksa’s responsibilities were enlarged to include the country’s urban development program. As Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development, Mr. Rajapaksa systematically and speedily implemented a range of initiatives that transformed Sri Lanka’s cities and improved the lives of the people by fostering a more sustainable and attractive urban environment.
Following a change in Government, Mr. Rajapaksa relinquished office on 9th January 2015. In February 2016 Mr. Rajapaksa formed “Viyathmaga” (Professionals for a Better Future) a non-profit organization comprising professionals, academics and entrepreneurs who wished to effectively contribute towards the development of Sri Lanka. Through Viyathmaga, Mr. Rajapaksa created a platform to engage with professionals in developing key policies to be implemented by a future government. Viyathmaga grew in in strength and popularity across the country and globally and propelled Mr. Rajapaksa to be considered a potential leader for Sri Lanka.
In August 2019, Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was declared as the Presidential Candidate by the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna under the leadership of His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa and campaigned on a platform of a policy-driven government, based on sustainable development and an inclusive Sri Lanka.
On the 16th November 2019 Mr Nanadasena Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected by a majority of 52.2% as the 7th Executive President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa is married to Ioma who holds a Diploma in Business Management from NIBM, Sri Lanka and worked as a Medical Coder in USA. They have one son, Manoj who holds a double major in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Duke University, North Carolina, USA and a Master’s in Systems Engineering from University of Southern California and works at Jet Propulsion Laboratories of NASA. Manoj is married to Sevwandie, a graduate in Cell and Molecular Biology from Winona State University, Minnesota and is working as Safety Manager at University of Southern California, Los Angeles.