‘Ex-leader Rajapaska to return to Sri Lankan’
Sri Lanka’s former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, was expected to return to the country from Singapore, a Sri Lankan lawmaker said.
Cabinet spokesperson, Bandula Gunawardena, told reporters on Tuesday that Mr Rajapaksa was not in hiding but the date of his return was not known.
The former leader fled Sri Lanka after mass unrest over an economic crisis.
Many protesters said he mishandled the nation’s finances, leading to soaring prices of essential goods.
Mr Rajapaksa left Sri Lanka on July 13, for the Maldives, before making his way to Singapore on July 14.
He submitted his resignation shortly after his arrival, which was formally accepted by the Sri Lankan cabinet on July15.
The former president travelled with his wife and two bodyguards. He no longer had legal immunity as a head of state.
Singapore said the ousted president did not ask for political asylum when he arrived.
Mr Rajapaksa had been initially granted a 14-day visa for his stay in Singapore. But that has now been extended to another 14 days, Singapore local media reported on Wednesday.
Speculation has since swirled about his possible plans, with some suggesting he might move to the United Arab Emirates.
However, Bloomberg quoted an unnamed Sri Lankan official as saying Mr Rajapaksa was keen to return to Colombo.
Then on Tuesday, Mr Gunawardena told reporters, “To my knowledge he is expected to come back”.
Sri Lankans blamed Mr Rajapaksa’s administration for their worst economic crisis in decades.
They have been struggling with months of daily power cuts and shortages of basics such as fuel, food and medicines.
Mr Rajapaksa has been replaced as president by his close ally, Ranil Wickremesinghe – he was voted in by lawmakers last week but was deeply unpopular among Sri Lankans.
Sri Lanka’s main opposition leader, Sajith Premadasa, has told the BBC he intends to run for president once Gotabaya Rajapaksa steps down.
This comes after his Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) party held talks with allies to get support for the move.
Sri Lanka was facing an unprecedented economic crisis which has brought thousands to the streets since March.
The country has run out of cash and was struggling to import basic items such as food, fuel and medicine. -BBC