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Sri Lanka’s ousted leader hopes to return home: party

#Sri #Lankas #ousted #leader #hopes #return #home #party

Sri Lanka’s ousted former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is trying to return home from his exile in Thailand and has asked his successor to guarantee his safety, his party said on Friday.

Rajapaksa fled the island last month after a huge crowd stormed his home, capping months of white-hot public anger over the island nation’s unprecedented economic crisis.

The 73-year-old had to flee his office with the help of the military and finally handed in his resignation from Singapore.

He has since flown to Thailand, but authorities there have warned him not to venture out of his hotel for his own safety and have effectively kept him under hotel arrest.

Rajapaksa’s youngest brother Basil, the former finance minister, met with the deposed leader’s successor Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday and asked for protection to allow his return, her party said in a statement.

“Basil Rajapaksa has asked the President to make arrangements for the return of the former President,” Sri Lanka’s Podujana Peramuna Party (SLPP) said in a statement.

“The main demand of the SLPP is the safety of the former president.”

The SLPP has an overwhelming majority in Parliament and the Wickremesinghe government relies on party MPs to govern.

There was no immediate response from the new government to the request.

Rajapaksa came to power in 2019 with the promise of “prospects of prosperity and splendor” but saw his popularity plummet as the country’s 22 million people suffered from fuel shortages, blackouts and runaway inflation.

After resigning halfway through his five-year term, Rajapaksa has lost his immunity as president and could face corruption charges.

Several cases in the Sri Lankan courts stalled after he became president in 2019 but could be revived if he returns.

Sri Lanka’s constitution guarantees former presidents bodyguards, a vehicle and accommodation.

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