After Over a Month in Exile, Sri Lanka’s Ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to Return Over Weekend: Sources

Sri Lanka’s ousted president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is all set to return to his home country over the weekend after over a month in exile. The former president had fled the island nation on July 13 after a massive crowd stormed his house, capping months of white-hot public anger over an unprecedented economic crisis.

According to highly placed sources, Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected to return to SriLanka over the weekend. Last month, the deposed leader’s party had said he was seeking to return home from his exile in Thailand and had asked his successor, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to guarantee his safety.

After his official residence was stormed by protesters, the 73-year-old had first flown to Maldives on July 13. He then left for Singapore the next day and eventually issued his resignation from there.

From Singapore, he flew to Thailand from where he has been angling to return to Sri Lanka. The authorities in Thailand, however, kept him almost under hotel arrest not allowing him to venture out for his own safety.

Gotabaya’s youngest brother Basil Rajapaksa, the former finance minister, had met with Wickremesinghe and requested protection to allow his brother’s return. The leader’s party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, had demanded his safety and security.

Sri Lanka’s constitution guarantees bodyguards, a vehicle and housing for former presidents.

The SLPP has an overwhelming majority in the Sri Lanka parliament and Wickremesinghe’s administration relies on the party’s lawmakers to govern.

The anger against Gotabaya’s rule boiled over after the country’s 22 million people endured months of fuel shortages, blackouts and runaway inflation. He was a popular leader when he came to power in 2019, promising “vistas of prosperity and splendour”.

As Gotabaya resigned halfway through his five-year term, he has lost presidential immunity and can face prosecution for corruption. These cases, which were stalled after he became president in 2019, could be revived if he returns.

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