Sri Lanka’s ex-leader blames others for anti-Muslim attacks

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s former strongman leader has blamed unnamed conspirators for carrying out anti-Muslim attacks during his tenure as he tries to woo estranged minority communities in his comeback bid in next month’s parliamentary elections.

Mahinda Rajapaksa said today that if elected he will not allow any ethnic discrimination.

Rajapaksa was defeated in the January presidential election amid a swell of opposition by ethnic Tamil and Muslim voters, owing to his majority Sinhala Buddhist nationalistic posture.

Rajapaksa was accused of being responsible for the deaths of thousands of ethnic Tamil civilians while leading the military campaign against separatist Tamil rebels and of secretly supporting nationalist groups that carried out anti-Muslim attacks.

Rajapaksa is contesting the Aug. 17 elections in a bid to become prime minister, a step away from president.