Rajapaksa greets his supporters after returning from the US last month. He plans to run for the president [Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters]

Colombo, Sri Lanka – Former defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, accused by rights groups of war crimes during the final months of Sri Lanka’s long-running civil war a decade ago, has confirmed he plans to run for the presidency in the wake of the Easter Sunday attacks that have shattered the country’s uneasy peace.

Rajapaksa, the brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, told Al Jazeera that he would stand as a candidate in elections due by late 2019.

“Definitely I’m contesting,” Rajapaksa said with a chuckle during an interview in the book-lined study of his home in the capital, Colombo, photos from his military

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