COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa returned home in the early hours of Saturday after fleeing the country in July, according to a senior security official.
As per UK-based media, the onetime leader fled the country as the economic crisis fuelled angry protests. Rajapaksa resigned after protesters angered by a debilitating economic crisis stormed his office and residence.
The former president fled the county following mass agitations calling for his resignation on July 9. Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka in the early hours of July 13 after massive protests erupted in Colombo and demonstrators angry with the country's economic crisis stormed his official residence and office.
He resigned as president after reaching Singapore, where he was issued a 14-day visit pass. He had fled to Singapore via the Maldives and then spent the past few weeks in Thailand.
He returns almost after two months after fleeing to Thailand. On August 11, the former President reached Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government.
Tight security has been provided to his Mirihana residence. However, Thailand has denied reports that the former Sri Lankan President has sought asylum in the country.
The Thailand Foreign Ministry said it received a request from Rajapaksa to visit the country with no intention of seeking political asylum.
According to Jamila Husain, Deputy Editor at Daily Mirror, Rajapaksa arrived in Sri Lanka from a Singapore Airlines flight. ".... and the man returns ...... Former Pres Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in #SriLanka a short while ago on board a Singapore Airlines flight. Several ministers are awaiting to welcome him at the BIA. Media is not allowed. He will be provided with all facilities granted to a former President," tweeted Husain.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe made arrangements for his return upon a request by Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) as a result of which the president is reported to have contacted Rajapaksa to discuss arrangements for his return to the country, Daily Mirror reported citing a source close to him.
Earlier, former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, who is also related to Gotabaya, hinted that Rajapaksa will return to the country on August 24.
Thailand was the second Southeast Asian country after the Maldives that Rajapaksa was seeking temporary shelter in after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests.
Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. After the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka on July 21 in Parliament.
He was earlier appointed as interim president of Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa fled abroad after his palace was stormed by angry protesters amid the unprecedented economic crisis.
Sri Lanka is suffering its worst economic crisis since gaining independence in 1948, which comes on the heels of successive waves of COVID-19, threatening to undo years of development progress and severely undermining the country's ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).