Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is currently in Thailand on a “temporary visit”, could return this Saturday to the country more than two months after the popular revolution against the Government that led him to escape practically ‘in extremis’ from the country.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe would be making arrangements for his possible return, at the request of the Sri Lanka People’s Front (SLPP) of his brother, former Prime Minister and former President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, a source close to Gotabaya has informed the ‘Daily Mirror’ newspaper.
After his return, Gotabaya will receive the relevant privileges for having served as President of Sri Lanka, the Chief Secretary of the Commonwealth of Sri Lankan Nations, Safara Kariyavasam, has explained, as reported by the daily ‘Dinamina’.
Given the animosity provoked by the figure of the former president — accused of promoting nepotism and corruption — the president would have asked his successor and former rival turned ally in his last months of mandate, Ranil Wickremesinghe, for guarantees of return to protect his life against any possible attack.
Gotabaya’s visa expires in November and the Thai government has already indicated that it does not intend to extend his status, contrary to what Singapore decided at the time, so the president would have to be back in Sri Lanka by that date at the latest.
The opposition, represented mainly in the United People Power party, has not objected to his return but has called for him to be tried on charges of embezzlement against him, “as he no longer enjoys legal immunity,” the party’s secretary general Ajith Perera said earlier.