Sri Lanka's new president: war hero or criminal?

For some, Sri Lanka's new president is the man to defeat enemies of the state such as those who carried out deadly Easter Sunday attacks earlier this year.

For others, he should be tried for war crimes over allegations of killings, torture and disappearances of scores of people during the final stages of a war against Tamil separatists a decade ago.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was declared the winner of Sri Lanka's presidential election on Sunday (November 17).

He's the younger brother of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and the pair, with Gotabaya as defense chief, gave the military a free hand in 2009 to crush the Tamil Tigers and end a 26-year-war.

The strongman leader has vowed to drain the swamp of religious extremism that bred the homegrown Islamist suicide bombers who attacked churches and hotels in April, killing more than 250 people.

That message has proved popular with Sri Lanka's majority Sinhalese Buddhists.

But his plan to rebuild the security arms of the state - including its intelligence cells and surveillance networks - has raised fears for Sri Lanka's minority Muslims.

Rajapaksa says the security apparatus was dismantled by the outgoing administration under international pressure.

But experts say a strengthened security state could be directed against Muslims, who have faced hostility from Buddhist hardliners ever since the attacks.

In his first comments following his victory, Rajapaksa said he would carry all countrymen with him in the new Sri Lanka he plans to build and to those raising issues about rights abuse he said: "You're talking about the past all the time, let's talk about the future."