Ex-Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa likely to return on Saturday: Reports

COLOMBO: Former President of Sri Lanka Gotabaya Rajapaksawho fled the country after an uprising against his government during the island’s worst-ever economic crisis, could return home from Thailand on Saturday, according to reports. media reports.
Rajapaksa, 73, fled the country on July 13 after months of public protests demanding his immediate resignation on July 9 gained momentum after protesters stormed into the Presidential House in Colombo and several other state buildings in the capital.
Rajapaksa will return to the country on Saturday, a source close to him was quoted by the Daily Mirror news portal as saying.
After arriving in the Maldives on a Sri Lanka Airforce plane, the former president arrived in Singapore from where he submitted his resignation on 13 July.
He then flew to Thailand, seeking temporary shelter. Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said Rajapaksa can stay in the country for 90 days as he is still a holder of a diplomatic passport.
However, Rajapaksa will not be allowed to participate in political activities in Thailand. He is also said to be confined in a hotel and surrounded by security officers.
After Rajapaksa was overthrown, the Parliament of Sri Lanka elected then Acting President and six-time former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new head of state. He has the backing of the Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the largest bloc in the 225-member parliament.
Media reports said President Wickremesinghe arranged for his return after the Rajapaksas-led SLPP made a request to him.
On August 19, SLPP Secretary General Sagara Kariyawasam said that the request was made at a meeting held with President Wickremesinghe.
Kariyawasam said that they have asked the president to facilitate his (Rajapaksa) return and ensure security and necessary facilities.
Sri Lanka is experiencing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948 due to a severe drop in foreign exchange reserves.
The IMF on Thursday announced it would provide Sri Lanka with a loan of about $2.9 billion over four years under a preliminary agreement to help the bankrupt island nation weather the worst economic crisis and protect sanitation. plans of the people.

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