The situation in the bankrupt country was made worse by global factors like the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but many hold the once-powerful Rajapaksa family as responsible for severely mismanaging the economy and tipping it into crisis.
Sri Lanka’s former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled the country in July after tens of thousands of protesters stormed his home and office in a display of anger over the country’s economic crisis, has returned to the country after seven weeks. Rajapaksa flew into Colombo’s Bandaranaike international airport around midnight Friday from Bangkok via Singapore.
On being welcomed by lawmakers in his party, Rajapaksa left the airport in a motorcade heavily guarded by armed soldiers and reached a government-owned house allocated to him as a former president, at the center of the capital, Colombo.On July 13, the ousted leader, his wife and two bodyguards left aboard an air force plane for the Maldives, before traveling to Singapore from where he officially resigned. He flew to Thailand two weeks later.
Rajapaksa has no court case or arrest warrant pending against him. The only court case he was facing for alleged corruption during his time as the secretary to the ministry of defense under his older brother’s presidency was withdrawn when he was elected president in 2019 because of constitutional immunity.For months, Sri Lanka has been in the grips of its worst economic crisis, which triggered extraordinary protests and unprecedented public rage that ultimately forced Rajapaksa and his brother, the former prime minister, to step down.
The situation in the bankrupt country was made worse by global factors like the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but many hold the once-powerful Rajapaksa family as responsible for severely mismanaging the economy and tipping it into crisis. The economic meltdown has seen monthslong shortages of essentials such as fuel, medicine and cooking gas due to a severe shortage of foreign currency. Though cooking gas supplies were restored through World Bank support, shortages of fuel, critical medicines and some food items continue.The island nation has suspended repayment of nearly $7 billion in foreign debt due this year.