Gotabaya Rajapaksa: Sri Lanka’s former president set to return to crisis-stricken country next week

Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told CNN on Wednesday evening that the Sri Lankan government had been informed of Rajapaksa’s return “through diplomatic channels”.

“Officially, we have no role in the return. He is a citizen of Sri Lanka and can travel as he wishes,” Sabry said.

Rajapaksa’s distant cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s former ambassador to Russia, told reporters on Wednesday that the former leader would return on August 24.

Rajapaksa is in Thailand after fleeing Sri Lanka in July on a military plane to the Maldives and then traveling to Singapore, days after angry protesters stormed his official residence and office.

He tendered his resignation from Singapore, as public anger grew on his alleged mismanagement of the economy.

The former leader’s hasty exit was a historic moment for the nation of 22 million, which members of the Rajapaksa family have ruled with an iron fist for much of the past two decades.

Former Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa asks to visit Thailand

Anger has been mounting in Sri Lanka for months after the country’s foreign exchange reserves fell to record lows as dollars ran out to pay for essential imports including food, medicine and fuel.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, Rajapaksa’s brother was forced to resign as Prime Minister in May as public fury grew over the crisis.

His departure came during a day of chaos and violence that culminated in police imposing a nationwide curfew.

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe would have said at the end of July that it was “not the right time” for Gotabaya Rajapaksa to return to the country because it could stir up political tensions.