Colombo, Sept 3 (AdaDerana) – Beleaguered former Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa returned to the island a short while ago (Sep 02), Ada Derana correspondent says.
Rajapaksa fled the country after months-long mass public demonstrations demanding his immediate resignation gained momentum in July after protesters stormed the President’s House in Colombo and several other state buildings in the capital.
He reached the Maldives late on July 12, with his wife Ioma Rajapaksa and two security officers in a military plane. Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) later confirmed that it provided a military plane for Rajapaksa’s departure upon a request made by the incumbent government.
Rajapaksa subsequently travelled to Singapore on a Saudi Airlines flight from the Maldives. He reached Changi International Airport in Singapore on July 14. His stay was later extended by the Singaporean authorities, issuing him another 14-day visit pass expiring on August 11.
The Singapore government clarified that Rajapaksa was on a private visit and not granted asylum. During his temporary stay in Singapore, Rajapaksa tendered his letter of resignation to Speaker of Parliament Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena, officially stepping down from the presidency.
The 73-year-old then flew to Thailand, seeking temporary shelter. Thailand’s foreign minister Don Pramudwinai clarified that Rajapaksa can stay in Thailand for 90 days because he is still a diplomatic passport holder.
After Rajapaksa was ousted, the island’s parliament elected then-Acting President and six-time former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as the new Head of State. He had the backing of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), the largest bloc in the 225-member parliament.