Deposed former president Rajapaksa set to return to Sri Lanka
Deposed former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is set to return to Sri Lanka after his younger brother, Basil, a former finance minister, asked for security guarantees to enable his return.
A Sri Lankan defense official told AFP that Sri Lanka’s deposed former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is anticipated to return to the nation on Saturday morning. The deposed President fled the country following protests that came in response to the worsening economic crisis.
The disgraced figure fled to the Maldives on July 13 and left there for Singapore a day later. Rajapaksa resigned by email, Indunil Yapa, the parliament speaker's spokesperson said hours after he landed in Singapore following the protesters' storming of his palace over the weekend.
Shortly after, Rajapaksa fled to Thailand since Singapore refused to extend his 28-day visa. In Bangkok, however, security authorities requested he does not leave his hotel residence as his safety remains at risk.
The official, who chose to remain anonymous, told AFP on September 2nd that the deposed former president “has been living in a Thai hotel as a virtual prisoner and was keen to return,” adding that “We are told he will return very early on Saturday. We have just created a new security division to protect him after his return on Saturday. The unit comprises elements from the army and police commandos.”
According to Sri Lanka’s constitution, former presidents are guaranteed bodyguards, a vehicle, and housing.
In a meeting with President Ranil Wickremesinghe last month, Rajapaksa's younger brother, Basil, a former finance minister, asked for security guarantees to enable the ousted former president's return.
Rajapaksa’s political party, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), said in a statement that "Basil Rajapaksa requested the president to make arrangements for the former president to return home."
The economy behind the political turmoil
Sri Lanka has been overpowered with months of lack of food, fuel, and medicine, extended power cuts, and inflation following a foreign exchange crisis that left importers unable to pay for vital goods and a turn of events with the island's former President chased from the country and bankruptcy filed with mounting foreign debt.
July witnessed huge protests in the country, and an angry crowd entered the official residence of Rajapaksa, who as a result fled the island and issued his resignation from Singapore.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board will need to agree on Thursday's staff agreement, which depends on Sri Lanka finalizing a deal to restructure its $51 billion in foreign debt with creditors. The IMF has set a $2.9 billion bailout amount for the revival of the country's economy.