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 flared up amid a crippling economic crisis, an official said Thursday.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to Singapore last month and resigned as Sri Lanka’s president, giving way to veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe to win a vote in parliament and take the top job.
Rajapaksa, accused of mishandling the island country’s economy, leading to its worst financial crisis in seven decades, is currently in Thailand on a temporary sojourn.
Sagara Kariyawasam, general secretary of the ruling Sri Lankan Podujana Peramuna, said his party had approached Wickremesinghe for help to facilitate Rajapaksa’s return.
“We have requested the President to provide necessary security and facilities for former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the country,” Kariyawasam told Reuters.
“The date of his return has not yet been determined.”
Local broadcaster Newsfirst, citing 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 such plans for the former president’s return.
Rajapaksa, a former military officer who took office after winning a landslide majority in a 2019 election, is the first Sri Lankan president to resign early.
His resignation followed widespread protests in the island nation of 22 million people, after thousands stormed the presidential residence and office in the commercial capital of Colombo in early July.
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