Colombo: Sri Lanka's former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is all set to return next week to the island nation that he was forced to flee in July after massive protests against him, local media reported.
Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, who is also related to Gotabaya, hinted that Rajapaksa will return to the country on August 24, the Daily Mirror said on Wednesday. Sri Lanka has been facing its worst economic crisis, which led to massive protests in the country that forced Rajapaksa to flee abroad and also hand in his resignation last month.
Responding to a question on Rajapaksha's return, Weeratunga said, "The date could change. I am saying it with responsibility today. I can't help if he changes the date later."
Weeratunga was arrested in February 2022 and released on bail several months later told mediapersons after giving a statement to the Criminal Investigation Department with regard to embezzling millions of US dollars in a deal connected to procurement of MiG-27 fighter jets to Sri Lanka from Ukraine in 2006, when Rajapaksa served as the Secretary to the Defence Ministry.
When asked whether Gotabaya Rajapaksa would engage in politics again,Weeratunga said he was not a clever politician but a clever officer.
"I don't think our people should be foolish again. He is not a clever person as a politician. He is a clever military officer. He does not have any qualities that Mahinda Rajapaksa has. That is why he got all wrong," he added as quoted by Daily Mirror.
Weeratunga said the former President Rajapaksha would render service to the country.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa arrived in Thailand last week following his departure from Singapore. He was granted entry into Thailand following a request from the Sri Lankan government, according to media reports.
He left Singapore last Thursday after nearly a month's stay in Singapore. The former president was issued a 14-day visit pass when he arrived at the Changi Airport in Singapore from the Maldives last month and he was allowed to stay there for two weeks.
Thailand has any denied reports that the former Sri Lankan President has sought asylum in the country. The Thailand Foreign Ministry said it received a request from Rajapaksa to visit the country with no intention of seeking political asylum.
"Thailand saw no problem with Rajapaksa entering on a diplomatic passport, which would allow him to stay 90 days," Daily Mirror reported, quoting Thailand Ministry spokesperson Tanee Sangrat as saying.
Thailand would be the second Southeast Asian country after the Maldives that Rajapaksa is seeking temporary shelter in after fleeing his island nation last month amid mass protests.
Sri Lankan Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena announced the official resignation of Rajapaksa on July 15. After the resignation of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as President of Sri Lanka on July 21 in Parliament.
Wickremesinghe was earlier appointed as interim president of Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa fled abroad after his palace was stormed by angry protesters amid the unprecedented economic crisis.