The former president of Sri Lanka can return home tomorrow

A Sri Lankan defense official said former Sri Lankan president Rajapaksa could return to the island nation from Thailand on the morning of September 3.

“He is staying at a hotel in Thailand, like a prisoner, and wants to return,” a Sri Lankan defense official said on September 2, referring to former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. “We were informed that he would return home on the morning of September 3.”

Mr. Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand on August 12, was able to stay for 90 days but decided to return with his wife, a bodyguard and an assistant. “A security unit has just been set up to protect Mr. Rajapaksa after returning home, with members from the army and police commandos,” the official added.

Sri Lanka’s constitution stipulates that former presidents will be provided with bodyguards, a means of transportation and housing.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaks at the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK November 2021.  Photo: Reuters.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa speaks at the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, UK November 2021. Image: Reuters.

Mr. Rajapaksa entered Singapore as a civilian on July 14, a day after fleeing Sri Lanka due to protests. He submitted his resignation and was approved by the Sri Lankan parliament.

Singapore authorities granted Mr. Rajapaksa a visa for two weeks, then extended it for another two weeks, until August 11. The former Sri Lankan president later went to Thailand and was asked by Bangkok security officials not to leave the hotel for his own safety.

Former President Rajapaksa has become the focus of criticism from Sri Lankan protesters. They argue that he made a series of mistakes that led to an economic recession, soaring inflation and depleted foreign currency reserves. After his resignation, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected as his successor.

Sri Lanka’s opposition parties said on July 28 they would file corruption charges against the former president if he returned home. The Tamil National Coalition representing Tamils, the largest ethnic minority in Sri Lanka, demanded that Rajapaksa face war crimes charges during the military campaign against Tamil insurgents in 2009, when he was defense Minister.

Like Tam (Theo AFP)

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