Colombo, Aug 1 (NewsWire) – President Ranil Wickremesinghe says it is not the right time for former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to Sri Lanka.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the President said the return of Rajapaksa could inflame political tensions in the country.
“It isn’t the right time for former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to Sri Lanka as it could inflame political tensions among tens of thousands of protesters who rallied to oust him over his management of the economy. I don’t believe it’s the time for him to return. I have no indication of him returning soon,” he said.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa left the country on a military aircraft bound for the Maldives on 13 July, before traveling onward to Singapore where he resigned over email.
Cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said on Tuesday that Rajapaksa wasn’t in hiding and was expected to return.
But President Wickremesinghe, who said he remained in contact with the former Head of State to deal with administrative handover issues and other government business, said Rajapaksa hadn’t told him he planned to return to Sri Lanka soon.
Commenting on the economic crisis, the President said the country has experienced the worst of its economic crisis and that restoring political stability will allow Sri Lanka to begin turning a corner, starting with finalizing negotiations for an International Monetary Fund bailout.
“I think we’ve already hit the bottom. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s how fast we can get to it,” President Wickremesinghe said.
The President also has acknowledged that it will take months before most Sri Lankans, who have faced runaway inflation and long queues for fuel and cooking gas, will begin to see their economic circumstances improve markedly.