Sri Lanka asks President to help Gotabaya Rajapaksa return

Sri Lanka asks President to help Gotabaya Rajapaksa return

After filing his nomination in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 7, 2019, a Sri Lankan presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa waved to media as he left the election commission. Eranga Jayawardena AP COLOMBO Sri Lanka's ruling party has asked the country's new president to provide security and other assistance to his predecessor who fled to Southeast Asia last month after protests flared amid a crippling economic crisis, an official said on Thursday.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa flew to Singapore last month and quit as Sri Lanka's president, making way for veteran politician Ranil Wickremesinghe to win a vote in parliament and take the top job.

Rajapaksa is currently in Thailand for a temporary stay, which has been accused of mishandling the island's economy, leading to its worst financial crisis in seven decades.

The general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, Sagara Kariyawasam, said his party approached Wickremesinghe for help in order to allow Rajapaksa's return.

Kariyawasam told Reuters that they asked the president to allow and provide the necessary security and facilities for former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the country.

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The date of his return is not finalized. The former ambassador, citing a former ambassador, said on Wednesday that Rajapaksa would return home next week.

In an interview with Reuters earlier in the day, Wickremesinghe said he was not aware of any plans for the former president's return.

Rajapaksa is a former military officer who took office after winning a landslide majority in 2019 and is the first politician in Sri Lankan to quit mid-term.

His resignation came after thousands of people stormed the presidential residence and office in the Colombo commercial capital in early July after widespread protests in the island nation of 22 million people.