Gota may return early Sept – Sources

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Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa may return home in about two weeks after fleeing an uprising in July, two sources familiar with the matter said it all depends on security and safety arrangements, Reuters reported.

One source said his return was partly linked to the cost of his stay in Thailand.

Rajapaksa fled Sri Lanka in the early hours of 13 July after massive protests engulfed Colombo and demonstrators angry with the country’s economic devastation stormed his official residence and office. He resigned as President after reaching Singapore, from where he later flew to Thailand.

It was reported that Rajapaksa could come back on Wednesday (24), but sources said the arrival had been deferred as talks continue between the ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the Government over his security and other concerns.

“He definitely wants to come back. But security is the main issue and intelligence has advised that he delay his return,” a Sri Lankan Government official, who is one of the sources said.

“He may return in two weeks or even before that if arrangements for his safety can be made,” he added.

The second source said the high cost of his stay in Thailand was a factor in seeking a return home as soon as possible.

“The bill has now run into several hundred million rupees as it includes the cost of a private jet, a presidential suite and round the clock security,” the source said. “The cost is becoming prohibitive.”

The expenses are largely being borne by some of his supporters, according to another source close to the Rajapaksa family.

However, all sources discussing the affairs of the former President declined to be named.

SLPP General Secretary Sagara Kariyawasam said the party had met President Ranil Wickremesinghe seeking arrangements for Rajapaksa’s return.

“We have made the request for his return to be facilitated as soon as possible,” Kariyawasam said.

Wickremesinghe told Reuters last week he was “not aware” of any plans for Rajapaksa’s return. He also said any legal action against Rajapaksa would proceed in accordance with Sri Lanka’s laws.