Sri Lanka: Former President Gotabaya returns from exile

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Colombo, September 4 (SO News/Agency) According to the news agency AFP, the former president of Sri Lanka, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, landed at Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo from Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, around midnight on Friday. Members of his political party welcomed him at the airport. He was later taken away in a convoy of cars amid tight security.

Sri Lankans blame Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the unprecedented economic crisis in the country. There were massive protests against him after which he fled to Maldives on July 13 in a military plane along with his wife and two bodyguards. From there, he went to Singapore and submitted his resignation before going to Thailand. It was from Thailand that he appealed to his successor Ranal Wickramasinghe for help to return to his homeland.

Although there is no pending court case against the former president in Sri Lanka and no arrest warrant against him, there have been several demands for an inquiry into allegations of maladministration and corruption. Rajapakse’s presidential immunity has lapsed due to his resignation.

Sri Lanka Young Journalists Association spokesman Tharindu Jayawardena said, “We welcome their return to the country so that they can be brought to justice for the crimes they have committed.” Rajapaksa’s successor President Ranal Wickramasinghe has been accused of protecting the former president’s family.

Rajapaksa’s party officials say the former president may not play any political role in Sri Lanka in the coming days.

Sri Lanka has been suffering from an economic crisis for the past several months, which has led to intense public anger and resentment. Rajapaksa and his brother, the former Prime Minister, had to resign from their posts due to public outrage.

The global pandemic of the corona virus has also destroyed the tourism industry in Sri Lanka, which is of fundamental importance to the country’s economy. The country is currently facing shortage of essential commodities like food, fuel, cooking oil and medicines. Sri Lanka is spiraling further into recession with bankruptcy, the Wickremesinghe government spending foreign exchange reserves on importing essential goods and arrests to quell street protests. That some financial reforms have also been introduced.

The International Monetary Fund has agreed to a $2.9 billion conditional bailout package for Sri Lanka on Thursday.

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