Sri Lanka, Colombo – Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the island nation last month amid mass protests, is expected to return next week, according to a senior minister.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told CNN late Wednesday that Rajapaksa’s return had been communicated to the Sri Lankan government “via diplomatic channels.”
“We have no official role in the return. He is a Sri Lankan citizen and is free to travel as he pleases “Sabry stated.
Rajapaksa’s estranged cousin, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia Udayanga Weeratunga, told reporters Wednesday that the former president would return on August 24.
Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand after fleeing Sri Lanka on a military plane to the Maldives and then to Singapore in July, just days after angry protesters stormed his official residence and office.
He resigned from Singapore as public outrage grew over his alleged mismanagement of the economy.
The former leader’s hasty exit was a watershed moment for the 22-million-strong country that Rajapaksa family members ruled with an iron fist for much of the previous two decades.
For months, anger has grown in Sri Lanka as the country’s foreign exchange reserves fell to record lows, with dollars running out to pay for essential imports such as food, medicine, and fuel.
As public outrage over the crisis grew, Rajapaksa’s brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, was forced to resign as prime minister in May.
His departure occurred during a day of chaos and violence that culminated in police imposing a nationwide curfew.
According to reports, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe stated in late July that it was “not the right time” for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the country because it would exacerbate political tensions.