Former Sri Lankan president returns to country after fleeing in July amid turmoil


Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country in July amid economic and political turmoil, returned late on Friday night.

Rajapaksa landed at the Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo from Thailand, where he had moved with his wife after failing to get a temporary visa extension for the third time in Singapore, according to local media.

Some ministers welcomed him at the airport, the local Daily Mirror newspaper reported.

After thousands of protesters stormed the presidential palace and set fire to the prime minister’s home in July, the former president fled the country to the Maldives on a military plane, then to Singapore on a medical visa that was extended twice.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry announced that Rajapaksa would be provided with security due to his status as former head of state.

Sri Lanka has been in a state of emergency since April, when mass protests broke out against the government’s handling of the economy.

Crippled by a shortage of foreign exchange reserves after the collapse of its tourism-dependent economy, the country of 22 million people has defaulted on all its foreign debt.

It has been unable to pay for food, fuel, and other necessities, with daily power outages caused by the energy crisis. Schools have been closed, and government employees have been asked to work from home.

In July, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as Sri Lanka’s new president, with the country still grappling with its worst financial crisis as foreign debts exceed $51 billion.



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