Sri Lanka’s ruling party has asked the country’s new president to provide security and other assistance to his predecessor who fled to Southeast Asia last month after protests erupted amid a crippling economic crisis, an official said Thursday.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to Singapore last month and resigned as president of Sri Lanka, making way for veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe to win a vote in parliament and take the top job.
Rajapaksa, who has been accused of mismanaging the island nation’s economy leading to its worst financial crisis in seven decades, is currently in Thailand on a temporary stay.
Sagara Kariyawasam, secretary general of Sri Lanka’s ruling Podujana Peramuna, said his party had approached Wickremesinghe for help in enabling Rajapaksa’s return.
“We have asked the president to facilitate and provide the necessary security and facilities for former president Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the country,” Kariyawasam told Reuters.
“The date of his return is not fixed.”
Local broadcaster Newsfirst, quoting a former ambassador, said on Wednesday that Rajapaksa would return home next week.
In an interview with Reuters earlier on Thursday, Wickremesinghe said he was “unaware” of any such plans for the former president’s return.
A former military officer who took office after winning a landslide election in 2019, Rajapaksa is the first Sri Lankan president to step down mid-term.
His resignation follows widespread protests in the island nation of 22 million people and came after thousands stormed the presidential residence and office in the commercial capital Colombo in early July.
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